"FOLLOWING JESUS WITHOUT DENOMINATIONALISM" The Way Out Of Religious Division INTRODUCTION 1. In our previous lesson, I began this series by defining the terms "denomination" and "denominationalism"... a. "denomination" - a group of congregations that are joined together under some governing body, that effectively serves to distinguish and divide them from other congregations b. "denominationalism" - advocacy of separation into religious denominations 2. I also suggested three reasons why "denominationalism" is wrong... a. It is un-scriptural (i.e., without scriptural support) b. It is anti-scriptural (e.g., Jn 17:20-23; 1Co 1:10-13; 3:3-4) c. It is harmful to the cause of Christ (by discouraging people from believing in Christ - Jn 17:21) 3. But is it possible for people today to simply be Christians, without being a member of any man-made denomination? a. The answer is "Yes!" b. Indeed, by following the example of Jesus Himself, we can be members of His body, the Lord's church, just as we read about in the scriptures! [To see how, let's start by noticing Jesus' own example in the religious climate of His day...] I. THE EXAMPLE JESUS HAS SET FOR US A. THE RELIGIOUS CLIMATE OF HIS DAY... 1. When Jesus came to this earth, the Israelites were living under the Law of God as given by Moses 2. In that law, God had not made any provision for the division of His people into religious sects or parties 3. Yet, by the time of Jesus, the Jews had formed several distinct religious parties: a. Pharisees (somewhat conservative) b. Sadducees (very liberal, the "modernists" of their day) c. Essenes (radical isolationists) d. Herodians, Zealots (political religionists) 4. It was assumed that all who were serious about religion would be associated with one of these groups B. THE EXAMPLE OF JESUS... 1. To which of these groups did Jesus belong? He belonged to NONE of these groups! 2. Instead, He maintained a "non-sectarian" relationship with God to the very end a. As an Israelite, living at a time when the Law of Moses was still in effect, He was simply an "Israelite" b. In addition, He encouraged all to live by the Law while it was still in effect - cf. Mt 5:17-20 c. In other words, He encouraged all to simply be what the Law of Moses intended them to be (i.e., "Israelites") C. WHAT WOULD JESUS BE TODAY? 1. If He were on earth, would He be a Baptist, or Catholic, or Presbyterian, or Methodist, etc.? 2. If He was simply an Israelite then, would He not simply be a "Christian" today? 3. That was certainly what His disciples came to be called - cf.Ac 11:26 [In any case, the example Jesus has set for us is clear: just be what God originally intended under the Law which is in effect. Since in the New Testament (the "law of Christ" cf. 1Co 9:21) the disciples of Christ were called "Christians", so we should be! Not only should we be content with being "called" Christians, we should also be concerned with "just being Christians". NOTHING MORE, NOTHING LESS! But how can we be sure that we are simply Christians, members of the church we read about in the New Testament? It helps to see what the Bible tells us about ...] II. THE LORD'S CHURCH IN THE FIRST CENTURY A.D. A. PROMISED BY JESUS... 1. Jesus promised to build HIS church - cf. Mt 16:18 2. The word "church" comes from the Greek word EKKLESIA, which means "a called-out group, an assembly, a congregation" 3. Therefore, Jesus was promising to create His own group of people who have been "called" B. ESTABLISHED THROUGH THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL... 1. How does this "calling" take place? 2. According to the apostle Paul, we are "called" by the gospel of Christ - 2Th 2:14 3. On the first Pentecost after the ascension of Christ, we see by preaching the gospel Peter "called out" those who were willing to express their faith in Jesus - Ac 2:38-41 4. Notice that those who gladly responded in faith, repentance and baptism were "added" a. To what and by whom were they "added"? b. We find the answer in verse 47: "And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved." 5. The day of Pentecost was the beginning of the Lord's church (His "ekklesia") 6. This "called-out" assembly or group was created when the gospel was proclaimed and people responded to it C. EXPANDED THROUGH THE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL... 1. At first, the church existed only in Jerusalem 2. As the gospel spread, and people responded to it, groups of these saved people in various cities met together 3. Each group became known as a church in a "local" sense (in contrast to the church "universal" which is made up of all those saved throughout the world) 4. For example, during Paul's first missionary journey, many such churches were established - Ac 14:21-23 5. By simply teaching the gospel of Christ, a local church was formed when those who obeyed the gospel joined together in their work and worship D. EDIFIED THROUGH THE APOSTLES' DOCTRINE... 1. Though united in Christ, these local churches were independent of any human association or federation of churches 2. Christ directed them through His inspired apostles, as they taught them how to worship and work together - cf. Ac 2:42 3. Sometimes this teaching by the apostles was done directly, other times by appointed emissaries - e.g., 1Co 4:17 4. Just as often, the teaching was done through the epistles or letters written by the apostles - cf. 1Co 14:37; 1Ti 3: 14-15; 2Th 2:14-15; 3:14 [When we see what the Bible tells us about the Lord's church, we learn that by responding to the gospel and then paying close heed to the "apostles' doctrine" (cf. Ac 2:42), people in the first century were able to be Christians only, without all the confusion prevalent today. But is it possible for us to do this today? YES! And here is how...] III. THE WAY OUT OF RELIGIOUS DIVISION A. ACCEPT THE CALL OF THE GOSPEL... 1. Remember, Christ calls us into His ekklesia (church) through the gospel 2. Therefore, we can begin by obeying the same instructions that Peter gave on the Day of Pentecost - Ac 2:38 2. By repenting of our sins, and being baptized for the remission of our sins, we would then receive the same blessings as did the 3000 on that day: SALVATION! 3. By being saved in this manner, we KNOW that the Lord truly adds us to HIS church just as He added them - cf. Ac 2:47 4. What then...? B. FOLLOW THE EXAMPLE OF THE EARLY CHRISTIANS... 1. The early Christians continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine - Ac 2:42 a. They joined no other religious organization, and NEITHER SHOULD WE! b. By being in Christ, we are automatically united with all others who are in Him! 2. As members of the Lord's church, we should study carefully the New Testament description of the church that continued steadfastly in the apostles' doctrine a. This description is found in the Book of Acts and in the Epistles which follow it b. It is here that we will find instruction from the Lord's apostles on HOW: 1) To worship the Lord acceptably 2) To be scripturally organized as local congregations 3) To live and work together as Christians, spreading the gospel of Christ through word and example 3. Since the apostles were guided by the Holy Spirit, we may be sure their instructions were exactly what Jesus wanted them to be! a. If we duplicate the early churches by following the apostles' instructions, we will simply be "Christians", and we can be certain the Lord is pleased with us b. As Jesus said to His apostles about those who would receive or reject their instructions: "He who hears you hears Me, he who rejects you rejects Me, and he who rejects Me rejects Him who sent Me." - Lk 10:16 CONCLUSION 1. Simply being a Christian, and duplicating a New Testament congregation is not as difficult as one might think a. There are literally thousands of such congregations throughout the world b. THERE IS LIKELY ONE IN YOUR AREA RIGHT NOW! (Feel free to contact me if you would like to try and locate the nearest one.) 2. And so, by following the example and teachings of Jesus, as revealed by His apostles, we can be led out of the religious confusion that dominates the religious world today! 3. Do you want to be simply a Christian, a member of the Lord's church we read about in the New Testament? a. If so, then I plead with you to first render obedience to the gospel of Christ as proclaimed by Peter and all the apostles - cf. Ac 2:36-38 b. You have the assurance of God's Word that you will then be added by the Lord Himself to His church - cf. Ac 2:47 c. Then, you have the responsibility to learn and follow the apostles' doctrine as you serve the Lord Jesus in your life - cf. Ac 2:42 4. If you have not yet responded to the commands of the gospel as put forth by Peter in Ac 2:38, why not let the reaction of those who did on the Day of Pentecost describe your actions today: "Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them." - Ac 2:41
Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011
Matthew Fontaine Maury
|by||Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.|
Many people have the impression that the nineteenth century was a bad time for Christianity. It witnessed the spread of uniformitarian geology, higher criticism, and evolution. However, it was by no means a victory for skepticism. What we often forget is that most people outside academia rejected these new ideas. In England, for example, Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species appeared in 1859, and Essays and Reviews, which appeared in 1860, catapulted German higher criticism into Anglican theology. Yet according to Gregory, “the years following 1860 were a time of great religious revival in England” (1986, p. 373).
Also, many prominent teachers and researchers remained committed to their belief in God and His inspired Word. One outstanding example is Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873). He was born in Virginia, and joined the U.S. Navy at age nineteen. Although an accomplished sailor, Maury always leaned toward the academic side of his profession. Following a serious coach accident, which confined him to duty on land, Maury’s scholarly reputation earned him a position in 1842 as Superintendent of the Depot of Charts and Instruments.
Almost immediately, Maury began the greatest task of his career. He was determined that captains should have charts that would enable them to sail as quickly and as safely as possible around the world. He used old log books and thousands of new observations to produce his famous wind and current charts of the world’s major oceans. These achievements earned him the epithet, “pathfinder of the seas.” Maury also wrote directions to accompany his charts, and he combined these with other observations about the ocean to produce The Physical Geography of the Sea, which first appeared in 1855. This was an immensely popular book, and marked the beginning of the science of oceanography.
Throughout all this success, Maury never forgot his belief in Scripture. Physical Geography is filled with references to the Bible. He could not help but be fascinated by passages that mention the sea, such as Psalm 8:8, Psalm 107:23-24, and Ecclesiastes 1:7. Whoever studies the sea, Maury contended, “must look upon it as a part of that exquisite machinery by which the harmonies of nature are preserved, and then will begin to perceive the developments of order and the evidences of design” (1859, p. 57).
Maury knew full well that these views clashed with those of his colleagues. Before five thousand people at the founding of the University of the South in 1860, he proclaimed the following:
I have been blamed by men of science, both in this country and in England, for quoting the Bible in confirmation of the doctrines of physical geography. The Bible, they say, was not written for scientific purposes, and is therefore no authority in matters of science. I beg pardon! The Bible is authority for everything it touches. What would you think of an historian who should refuse to consult historical records of the Bible, because the Bible was not written for the purposes of history? The Bible is true and science is true (as quoted in Lewis, 1927, p. 99, emp. in orig.).Such convictions have earned Maury a well-deserved place in Bible-science literature. He is honored as a man who took God at His Word. However, readers may want to treat one claim with a little suspicion (see Major, 1995). Several accounts suggest that Maury was so confident about God’s Word that his mapping of ocean currents resulted directly from reading or hearing about the “paths of the seas” in Psalm 8:8. Some go on to suggest that ocean currents would have remained hidden unless Maury had read this passage in the Bible. Some set this crucial event in Maury’s childhood, and others set it during the recovery from his accident. One popular account by Virginia Lee Cox has a son reading to Maury during an illness (Lewis, 1927, p. 252), but Maury began his mapping project when the oldest son was only two years old. Another problem is that some currents, such as the Gulf Stream, were well-studied by the 1840s. Maury’s feat was to bring his scientific knowledge to bear on a vast array of nautical information, but he was not the first to discover ocean currents.
There is little doubt that Maury held a special fascination for Psalm 8:8 and other passages that mention the sea and the sky. They confirmed to him that revelation in nature and revelation in Scripture were in harmony because they have One Author. These convictions, and Maury’s character, make him worthy of emulation by Bible-believing scientists today.
Lewis, Charles Lee (1927), Matthew Fontaine Maury: The Pathfinder of the Seas (Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute, 1969 reprint by AMS Press, New York).
Major, Trevor (1995), “Honor to Whom Honor...Matthew Fontaine Maury (1806-1873),” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 32:82-87, September.
Maury, Matthew F. (1859), The Physical Geography of the Sea (New York: Harper & Brothers, sixth edition).
God is No Respecter of Persons
|by||Caleb Colley, Ph.D.|
When the first Gentile was converted to Christianity, the apostle Peter perceived that “God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him” (Acts 10:34-35). Before the church was established and Gentiles began to be converted to Christ, many Jews supposed that God favored them over all other ethnic groups; some had the false notion that merely being Jewish was a sure sign that one was saved (Matthew 3:9; Luke 3:8; 7:30).
When the religious barrier between Jews and Gentiles was broken down, Peter more fully understood one important aspect of God’s character: He does not favor—and never has favored—one person or group of people over others. Whether or not the Israelites always understood it, anyone who obeys God’s commands can be justified in His sight. Consider a sampling of the passages that emphasize God’s fairness toward all humans:
2 Chronicles 19:7: “Now therefore, let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take care and do it, for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, no partiality, nor taking of bribes.”Exactly what does it mean that God is impartial? God offers salvation to every man, no matter what external circumstances, such as socioeconomic status or nationality, might apply to him. God does not offer salvation only to the Jew, just because he is a Jew, or only to the Gentile because he is a Gentile. The Greek word translated “respecter of persons” in the King James Version of Acts 10:34 (“God is no respecter of persons”) is prosopolemptes, a word that refers to a judge who looks at a man’s face instead of at the facts of the case, and makes a decision based on whether or not he likes the man (Lenski, 1961, p. 418). Under Roman law, for example, a defendant’s societal status was weighed heavily along with evidence. Any human judge might show undue favor to a plaintiff or a defendant because of private friendship, bribery, rank, power, or political affiliation, but God, the perfect Judge, cannot be tempted by any of the things that might tempt a human judge to show unfair partiality.
Job 34:19: “Yet He is not partial to princes, nor does He regard the rich more than the poor; for they are all the work of His hands.”
Romans 2:10-11: “[B]ut glory, honor, and peace to everyone who works what is good, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For there is no partiality with God.”
Galatians 5:6: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision or uncircumcision avails anything, but faith working through love.”
1 Peter 1:17: “And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear.”
God’s impartiality does not keep Him from choosing people and nations of people to accomplish His specific purposes. He was free to use the Israelites as the seed line to bring about the Son of God in human form (the Israelites have never been the only group of people who had access to salvation—see Romans 1:18ff; Jackson, 2004); He was free to use the Babylonians to defeat the disobedient Israelites in battle and to take the spoils from them (2 Kings 25:1-21); He was free to use Peter and Paul to spread the Gospel to lost sinners. God can accomplish everything He needs to do without violating His commitment to allow all the opportunity to be saved.
Furthermore, God blesses people in different ways. God’s impartiality does not mean that everyone will have exactly the same amount of money, exactly the same amount of influence, exactly the same number of children, or exactly the same number of years upon the Earth. (At the very moment that Peter noted God’s impartiality, he was in the presence of a man who possessed more material wealth than Peter did.) Some do have more money than others, some have families who love them more, and some even have more opportunities to hear the Gospel preached. However, everyone can be saved, if he is willing to search for the truth. While some accountable adults may live their entire lives without hearing a single Gospel sermon, they all experience the marvelous works of the hand of God, showing every person that He exists. Paul wrote:
[W]hat may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:19-21).God always has expected impartiality from His followers. We should not treat people differently because of their financial status or outward appearance. The Lord said: “You shall do no injustice in judgment. You shall not be partial to the poor, nor honor the person of the mighty” (Leviticus 19:15). Deuteronomy 1:17 reads: “You shall not show partiality in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great.” After describing a scenario in which a rich man was given a favored seat in the assembly, and a poor man was pushed to the side, James wrote: “But if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors” (James 2:9). In stating that Christians should not show partiality because they believe in Christ, James, by inspiration, suggested that favoritism—treating certain people as if they are of more inherent worth—is inconsistent with faith in Christ, and causes one to violate God’s law of liberty (2:8,12).
We are grateful that God has not arbitrarily chosen some people to be saved and some to be lost. Imagine a basis upon which He might select which people should be saved. Would He choose the wealthy? The well known? The most intelligent? Members of a particular ethnic group or culture? Fortunately, each person can choose for himself whether or not to accept God’s saving grace (Joshua 24:15; Isaiah 7:16; Ezekiel 18:20; Matthew 23:37; Revelation 22:17). Each person is responsible for his or her own actions (Ezekiel 18:20; Romans 14:12; 2 Corinthians 5:10). Because of God’s marvelous love for all humans, He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9; cf. 1 Timothy 2:4).
REFERENCESJackson, Wayne (2004), “To What Law Were the Ancient Gentiles Accountable?,” [On-line], URL: http://www.christiancourier.com/questions/whatLawAncientGentiles.htm.
Lenski, R.C.H. (1961 reprint), The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Chalk One up for Academic Freedom
|by||Kyle Butt, M.A.|
For several decades now, the theory of evolution has maintained an unwarranted, undeserved strangle hold on practically every public school science curriculum across our nation. Those who have dared question the beloved dogma have been intimidated, threatened, fired, and mocked for their dissenting views. One of the primary reasons for this censure is that the tenuous theory does not find evidentiary backing from any major field of science. While its proponents boast about the theory’s virtual factuality and the mounds of evidence that “prove” it to be the fundamental scientific theory, hard core, experimental evidence in favor of the theory has been lacking for years—a fact which has been admitted by evolutionists in their more candid moments (see Miller, 2004).
It is refreshing to see that there are those who have the courage to stand up and allow the purported evidence for evolution to be examined critically. On November 8, 2005, the Kansas Board of Education adopted new public school science standards that open the door for critical evaluation of the erroneous theory of evolution, as well as for consideration of alternative ideas of origins such as intelligent design. An article by John Hanna of the Associated Press explained that the new standards “say high school students must understand the major evolutionary concepts. But they also declare that basic Darwinian theory...has been challenged in recent years by fossil evidence and molecular biology” (2005).
Of course, the proponents of evolution are irate. Leading evolutionist and educator Eugenie Scott was quoted as saying, “We can predict this fight happening elsewhere” (Hanna, 2005). I think they certainly can predict that this fight will happen elsewhere. It is high time that the theory of evolution be evaluated critically and be seen for what it really is: a fallacious theory based more upon a belligerent adherence to the philosophy of materialism than an honest assessment of scientific discovery.
Kansas Board of Education member, Kathy Martin, responded to the board’s decision by saying: “Students will be informed and not indoctrinated” (Hanna, 2005). Her assessment hit the nail on the head. If evolution is such a well-grounded, virtual fact, it should be able to withstand a critical evaluation, and it should outstrip competing ideas. The fact that evolutionists do not want any other information considered is a telling hint that, deep down, they know their precious doctrine cannot withstand the test. In desperate efforts to keep evolution entrenched, evolutionists will claim that all other ideas (such as intelligent design) are unscientific, only held by ignorant radicals, backdoor advances of fundamentalist Christianity, and other such diversionary tactics. In reality, they are simply trying to draw attention away from the real issue: Does accurate, scientific evidence confirm the theory of evolution? Those on the Kansas Board of Education, and an increasing number of truth-seekers, are beginning to realize that the overwhelming answer to that question is a resounding “No!”
Miller, Dave (2004), “Atheist Finally ‘Sobers Up,’” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2662.
Encouraging Signs for the Children
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
In the midst of the raging culture war, in which the moral sensibilities of the nation are being decided, three encouraging signs have recently surfaced regarding abortion. First, the state legislature of South Dakota passed a statewide ban on abortion, and the governor signed the ban into law (“South Dakota Governor...,” 2006). Unless a woman’s life is at stake, performing an abortion is a criminal offense—with no exception for cases of rape or incest. Five other states have proposed similar bans, with Mississippi’s approaching passage (Vanderheyden, 2006). Doctors who perform abortions in South Dakota may now receive a five-year prison term and a $5,000 fine. The law will undoubtedly trigger a court fight that will challenge the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court Roe v. Wade decision that legalized abortion.
Second, a bill is working its way through the Indiana legislature that would require abortion doctors to inform Indiana women seeking an abortion that life begins at conception. The bill also would require abortion providers to tell women that a fetus may be able to feel pain. These stipulations would be in addition to the state’s current informed consent laws that provide women with information about risks and alternatives to abortion, the fetus’ age and potential viability, as well as the offer to show women an ultrasound of the pre-born infant (“Proposed Indiana Law...,” 2006).
Third, the U.S. Supreme court recently announced that it has agreed to make a ruling on whether the federal government can ban some abortion procedures. The justices will decide the constitutionality of the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act that President Bush signed into law in 2003 (Vicini, 2006).
In all three of these cases, pro-abortion forces, from Planned Parenthood to NARAL [National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League—DM], are mobilizing to fight any relaxation of the blanket approval of abortion achieved by Roe v. Wade. Pro-life forces are hopeful that the recent reshaping of the court by Bush (with the appointments of Justice Samuel Alito and Chief Justice John Roberts) will tip the national fight over abortion rights in favor of the children.
For those who believe in the God of the Bible, this issue is settled. God hates “hands that shed innocent blood” (Proverbs 6:17).
“South Dakota Governor Signs Abortion Ban” (2006), Associated Press, March 7, [On-line], URL: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/11699703/.
Vanderheyden, Terry (2006), “Mississippi Abortion Ban Bill Passes House; Moves to Senate for Approval,” Life Site News, March 3, [On-line], URL: http://www.lifesite.net/ldn/2006/mar/06030304.html.
Vicini, James (2006), “Reshaped U.S. High Court to Decide Abortion Law,” Reuters, February 21, [On-line], URL: http://today.reuters.co.uk/news/newsArticle.aspx?type=worldNews&storyID=2006 -02-21T212347Z_01_N21411932_RTRUKOC_0_UK-USA-COURT-ABORTION.xml& archived=False.
Franky and Jennifer: Torah's family lawIf Israel had said no to the covenant God offered them at Sinai there would have been no life for them. At least no life for that generation that said no to the covenant. We know this is true because when they later refused to be bound by the covenant, at the Golden Calf affair, God was about to destroy that whole generation (Exodus 32). Later still, when they rejected the covenant by rejecting the land which was part of the covenant, the Lord took the lives of that whole generation and left Israel without circumcision and Passover (Numbers 14). For that generation, Israel were wanderers in the strict sense, rather than pilgrims; they were a people without the distinctive marks of having been covenanted with God in Abraham or having been brought out of Egypt.
Nevertheless, saying yes to the covenant God offered them, while it constituted them a nation under God and formally ratified their sonship, it didn't earn them their relationship with God. It was still a gift. The Torah profiled the life that was expected of them as a family. The "parable" that follows may help develop the point I'm wanting to make: Israel was gifted with life with God and the covenantal Torah was the "in house rules" for life as the family of God, for the sons and daughters of God.
FRANKY AND JENNIFER
Franky and Jennifer grew up together. They went to the same school, shared some of the same classes, outside interests and became good friends. They not only admired and respected each other, they began to miss each other when the other wasn't around, and to worry when the other was sick. Nobody was surprised when the two close friends announced they were going to get married.
They had talked a lot about what they wanted out of life and high on the grand list was, "a warm, loving family". How would they achieve that? Well, they'd both been part of families that gave them clues—positive and negative—how to go about it; they were reasonably well-read and though they were young, they weren't dumb. They'd seen and heard much that would act as groundwork on which to build. So they set up home.
A few years later the babies began to arrive. For all the best reasons the two of them found a lot of pleasure and deep joy in the children and, of course, they were committed to holding, feeding, clothing, bathing, loving and providing them with what they needed.
The babies earned nothing, they didn't need to—the parental love was unconditional and unashamed.
As the time slipped by they laughed and rejoiced at every sign of progress in the children. Progress they nurtured and encouraged. There was David's first time to hold the spoon for himself (even got some food to his mouth), Rachel's first tottering steps, Andrew's successful (and unaided) first read. There was the tying of shoes, the brushing of teeth, the making of beds, the putting on of socks, a bath all by one's self (with nervous parents calling in every thirty seconds, "Are you all right?") and other social challenges which grew more difficult and more complex as the years slipped by.
There were house-rules, of course! No one was allowed to play around with electric sockets or sharp knives, scream at someone, use bad language they heard at school or maybe on TV. There was bed by 8.30 and lights out by nine, there was homework to be done (usually) before a favoured TV program was watched and there were chores to be done—before or after play didn't matter—but they had to be done.
The rules weren't created to enslave, narrow or deprive the children. The opposite was true!
The children learned the behaviour that pleased or displeased their parents but it never entered their minds that Franky and Jennifer loved them because they kept the rules. And it never entered their minds that when the rules were sometimes broken that the parents stopped loving them. If someone had suggested that their parents only loved them when and because they kept the house-rules, the children would have scoffed! They knew they sometimes disappointed or displeased their parents; they even knew what it was to be disciplined but it was utter rubbish to suggest that Franky and Jennifer loved them only when they did what they were told. That may have been the case in other homes but not in this home!
The two older children noticed that the "lights out by nine" rule didn't apply in Rachel's room when she developed a real fear of the dark. That made sense. The "lights out by nine" rule was for their benefit, to allow them to get enough sleep but since Rachel had become terrified of the dark, she wasn't getting any sleep at all. In Andrew and Robert's room the rule still applied because it was achieving for them what the parents were aiming at.
One response to Rachel's fear might have been, "Rules are made to be kept no matter what the circumstances, so, nightmares, cold sweats and endless tears notwithstanding, the lights go out at nine." But that would have been a poor response.
Franky and Jennifer would insist that "the law was made for the child and not the child for the law." They would leave the light on while they tried to help eliminate the anxiety.
Since the law was introduced for the child's benefit it's assumed by the parents that the child is more important than the law. To insist that the rule be kept when it's clearly contrary to the child's welfare is to regard the rule as more important than the child and it would violate the parental purpose for the child.
It wouldn't help the other children either to see their brother or sister mauled by a law which was supposed to be a blessing. Parental credibility would be under siege and the relationship under threat. This helped the kids to see that the rules weren't the fundamental realities; that behind the rules was the will of the parents for each child's good. They were learning not only the importance of rules because by a wise application of them the parents were teaching them the place of rules.
As they grew older the parents changed the "to bed" and "lights out" times. That made sense to the children as well. At five years old, in bed by 8.30 seems sensible but at fifteen it isn't geared for their age and maturity. (A maturity which had been helped along earlier by rules such as an 8.30 bed time and the childrens' glad submission to them.) They couldn't always understand why some of the rules were made, even when they asked and the parents explained but the children trusted Franky and Jennifer and supposed that they would understand better later.
And there were times when the rules didn't suit, even when they did understand the whys and wherefores of them. Sometimes they broke them and paid the price of discipline. For example, any eating was to be done in the kitchen at meal or snack times and there was to be no eating done in bed. (Too many children had nearly choked while they ate lying down.) No one was tarred and feathered if they didn't resist the temptation to a snack in bed but there was some sort of discipline ranging from a stern rebuke to loss of privileges.
There were other house rules that hardly needed mentioned because they would have been such a radical departure from family values and aims. Physical abuse of one another, marked verbal or emotional abuse would all have been taken as serious crimes against the family. This was clear from the way persistent squabbling was handled, squabbling that led to some pushing and unbridled speech. It was made plain too by the frequent discussions about some TV programs, news and fiction, as well as experiences at school.
The very idea that someone in a fit of temper would set light to someone's room or hit them with a sharp instrument made coming in fifteen minutes late or smuggling some biscuits to bed appear to be mild transgressions indeed.
This showed that while all house rules were to be kept, some were more important than others. It would have been nonsense to view every house rule as of equal importance. The parents made it clear to the children that there were more important and less important matters in "the law of the house".
I could easily leave you the impression that what the Wilson family did was spend their lives thinking about rules and laws. This is far from the truth!
The proper response to the rules of the home is a wise loving commitment to the family and that's what was nurtured in the Wilson house. They didn't go about thinking of "rules". They didn't always consciously think of their being a family—because of their shaping they simply understood that they were and much of the time they lived out their place in this loving family without analyzing the situation.
The rules were seen as servants to the family unit. They were seen as protecting, promoting, defining and revealing what it meant to be a loving family and not just a collection of free-standing individuals.
I mentioned earlier that a generally wise rule was set aside when Rachel's need was not only not being met by it, she was being injured by it. And the change of bed-time and lights out was made when the rule no longer reflected the conditions/age and new needs of the children.
Let me make the point again: only the rules changed—the aim was maintained. If the rules were contrary to the family's well being, they wouldn't have been made in the first place. If due to changes in circumstances the wise rules no longer gained what the parents aimed for, they were either altered or removed. But as long as the rules served the grand purpose for which they existed, they stood and were gladly obeyed by all the family.
The rules didn't determine the over-arching aim, the rules were there to support and help achieve the over-arching aim: fullness of life for all within a loving family relationship.
Because "life" within a family unit had change and difference written into it, many rules were understood to relate only to specific sets of circumstances and specific times.
David, the older son, noticed that his parents held him more strictly accountable than his brother and sister. He would hear Franky say to him on occasions when all three of them had been disobedient, "You should know better." At first he didn't understand or like this but as he got older he understood, and though he smarted under it at times, he felt good about it. It meant they saw him as more mature and so expected more of him. (He was also pleased because his maturity brought privileges with it. He was free from some of the restrictions the younger ones were still subject to.)
Andrew noticed that while they all had so many things in common, each of them had their own roles in the family. For example, David wasn't the dad and wasn't expected to carry that responsibility. Rachel wasn't the mother and he wasn't David. And dad wasn't Andrew so he didn't have school-work to do. Of course there were jobs that the whole family pitched in to do, jobs that weren't exclusively assigned to anyone (dishwashing and clearing up would illustrate the point) and it was OK for David to give Rachel advice, as Jennifer would do. Just the same, while there was plenty of dialogue and everyone got a fair hearing, it was clear that some responsibilities couldn't be passed off to someone else.
There was no competition in the home to see who kept the most laws or who kept them best. Nobody assessed himself or anyone else on the basis of the number of laws kept or broken. That would have been too simple and it would have missed the whole spirit of the family. Franky and Jennifer would have been appalled if the children ever felt that that was what the parents wanted.
"No," they would have said, "If we gave you that impression we've misled you. The keeping or the breaking of the rules is not the bottom line here. The final issue is: are we committed to each other in love, seeking one another's joy and best interests?"
If Rachel came to Franky and Jennifer every day with a "laundry list" of rules kept and broken, seeking approval from her parents and seeking to be seen as the "child most committed to the family"—if she did that, they would set her down and made some things clear.
Because there could never be enough rules to cover every conceivable life-situation, where guidelines were needed, the parents made new rules. For example, when they went on vacation, they faced new conditions (crowds, fair-grounds, river rides, and the like) so new rules were created that weren't necessary at home. In a large fairground Franky said, "If we get separated for more than thirty minutes, we go to the entrance of that big marquee marked CENTRAL, okay?"
This was a new rule but it served the same purpose that all the other rules served: the protection, enrichment and care of the family. And because this was true, the whole family willingly subjected itself to the new rule. Nobody wanted any member of the family to get lost or hurt or be subjected to needless anxiety.
Safely back home that rule was forgotten while family commitment remained as fresh and vital as ever.
The fact that new rules had to be created because they were on vacation confirmed to Franky and Jennifer what they had always realized: it isn't possible to have enough rules to cover all situations—even if they had thought that was desirable—which they certainly didn't.
Having enough rules would mean there would have to be rules on how to apply rules.
Let's suppose, one of the rules is: you will be back in the house no later than 10 p.m. On winter evenings. If unintentionally one of the children came in at 10.05 that would be one case but what if one deliberately chose not to make it home by 10? He arrives back in at 11.15 to worried parents who are about to verbally reprimand him and he tells them of a friend who was hit by a passing motor-cyclist and needed to go to the emergency room. He could have made it home by ten but deliberately chose to ignore the "curfew".
Franky and Jennifer would be pleased. That sort of decision could be fitted into the spirit of the family. It shows the maturity and compassion that the parents are aiming to create in the children. In this case, the breaking of the rule honoured, and was intended to honour, the parents and the family ("my parents would want me to do this").
To deliberately choose to break the rule to spite the parents, to exercise pride, to "do what I want to do" would have been a different kind of decision altogether.
It was in areas like these that Franky and Jennifer realized with special clarity that they were shaping hearts and lives and not just handing down laws. There were occasions when the children were older that the parents were away and decisions had to be made without their input.
How could the children know, know for sure, what the parents would have wanted under some serious circumstances? Well, they couldn't know for certain just what they would have said, but they had been shaped by their spirits, wisdom and values so that the decisions they came to by themselves weren't completely without parental input. There were some options which just weren't possible for the children in the light of their raising. Of course they could have physically carried them out, but they couldn't have done it and thought they would be pleasing to their parents.
And while people who didn't know the Wilson family perhaps could have suggested other sane options if they had been given the facts, they wouldn't have been as well qualified to know what would please Franky and Jennifer and fit in with the spirit of the family.
The Wilsons learned as they grew together as a family that life wasn't a static "thing"—it was dynamic, it was a relationship, not something you could take in your hand or set on a cabinet and admire; not something "finished". Being a family involved the biological connection (they were all related by "blood") of course, but it meant being committed to one another, seeking one another's highest good. It meant giving and receiving, adjusting or standing firm.
It was loving one another!
"Love" wasn't simply an emotion, it was a "bias" toward each other, a loyal commitment to one another which showed itself in different emotions depending on the circumstances. Sometimes they cried because the others were crying, sometimes they laughed for the same reason. All the emotions that are part of being human and which are constructive were exerted toward each other.
Behaviour and emotions were tested by their relation to the over-arching meaning of "a loving family". They sometimes mistreated each other, forgave and/or confronted each other. The wrongs committed were wrongs that could (and were) gladly tolerated as "within the covenant".
But there were wrongs that were immediate violations of the "family covenant". These involved not only the nature of the acts but the attitude which went with the deeds.
Physical violence was always frowned on but this had to be worked out in light of the foundational values and commitment of the family. A slap in anger would have its consequences but prolonged sly beatings or some form of inflicting pain would be in a wholly different category. A disrespectful word against the parents was unacceptable but a day after day stream of obscenities would be something else.
David in his very late teens got caught up in wrong behaviour and the wrong company. He became addicted first to booze and then to cocaine. It was the beginning of a nightmare. The whole family pleaded and worked with him over an extended period, tears were shed, practical help was given, money was spent, abuse was endured, advice was sought but all to no avail. It came to a head after about two years, with David seriously injuring Rachel and holding a knife to his mother's throat, demanding money.
You understand, it wasn't just what David did that turned harmony into chaos, it was his disposition and attitude toward the parents and the children. The wrongs were not only of a foundational nature, they were done in a spirit which demonstrated that at that point the family meant nothing to him.
With sorrow in the hearts of the two children, the parents removed David from the home as someone no longer capable of/willing to live as part of the family. (For two more years he would come back, abusive, smashing windows, ripping tyres and threatening the family.)
What had been lost was more than the willingness/ability to abide by the rules of the family—what had been lost was loving commitment to the family.
No one was pleased at the loss of David! Every member of the family felt the pain of the loss and wished things were different.
Now and then they'd sit and look at each other. Jennifer, in particular worried about their exclusion of David. Franky assured her that what they did was not loveless. They owed something to Andrew and Rachel as well as to one another. A "conflict of interests" had arisen. Love toward the other children meant offering protection to them and it was that expression of love that led to David's exclusion. David wasn't excluded because he was hated or that the family didn't wish him well or had easily grown tired of him. And it certainly wasn't that they had lost all feeling toward him. (Even as they discussed the situation they felt pity toward David and wished things could be as they once were, as they had sought them to be and they hoped that excluding him would bring him to his senses when he felt the loss.)
As Franky and Jennifer reflected on the way they pursued family joy and enrichment through the years, they knew they didn't do everything right. They had made some rules they thought were useful but with hindsight they realized they hadn't been. But their intentions had always been good, their motivation had always been for the blessing of the family as a family.
As deeply as they loved the children they could never have made rules that were purposed to narrow or hurt or cheat them.
Both parents and children knew that love was not without content. There were certain types of behaviour that love wouldn't approve-there were things love wouldn't do! On the other hand, there were things love could not avoid doing. It was more than a feeling, it was a commitment and a purpose and it was shaped by a vision of what a deep, rich, full life was.
Later, when the children left home and had families of their own, they would follow the loving guidance of their parents. This wouldn't mean they would do everything the same way, have the same number of rules, the same emphasis and the like. Their family would be a different family with different needs, dispositions and temperaments and while families would always have things in common and have the same over-arching purpose—changed circumstances would require a different approach to things.
In order for the parents to remain constant they would have to change!
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
August 7 - 9
The World English Bible
Ezra 9, 10
Ezr 9:1 Now when these things were done, the princes drew near to me, saying, The people of Israel, and the priests and the Levites, have not separated themselves from the peoples of the lands, doing according to their abominations, even of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Jebusites, the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Egyptians, and the Amorites.
Ezr 9:2 For they have taken of their daughters for themselves and for their sons, so that the holy seed have mixed themselves with the peoples of the lands: yes, the hand of the princes and rulers has been chief in this trespass.
Ezr 9:3 When I heard this thing, I tore my garment and my robe, and plucked off the hair of my head and of my beard, and sat down confounded.
Ezr 9:4 Then were assembled to me everyone who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the trespass of them of the captivity; and I sat confounded until the evening offering.
Ezr 9:5 At the evening offering I arose up from my humiliation, even with my garment and my robe torn; and I fell on my knees, and spread out my hands to Yahweh my God;
Ezr 9:6 and I said, my God, I am ashamed and blush to lift up my face to you, my God; for our iniquities are increased over our head, and our guiltiness is grown up to the heavens.
Ezr 9:7 Since the days of our fathers we have been exceeding guilty to this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to plunder, and to confusion of face, as it is this day.
Ezr 9:8 Now for a little moment grace has been shown from Yahweh our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a nail in his holy place, that our God may lighten our eyes, and give us a little reviving in our bondage.
Ezr 9:9 For we are bondservants; yet our God has not forsaken us in our bondage, but has extended loving kindness to us in the sight of the kings of Persia, to give us a reviving, to set up the house of our God, and to repair its ruins, and to give us a wall in Judah and in Jerusalem.
Ezr 9:10 Now, our God, what shall we say after this? for we have forsaken your commandments,
Ezr 9:11 which you have commanded by your servants the prophets, saying, The land, to which you go to possess it, is an unclean land through the uncleanness of the peoples of the lands, through their abominations, which have filled it from one end to another with their filthiness:
Ezr 9:12 now therefore don't give your daughters to their sons, neither take their daughters to your sons, nor seek their peace or their prosperity forever; that you may be strong, and eat the good of the land, and leave it for an inheritance to your children forever.
Ezr 9:13 After all that is come on us for our evil deeds, and for our great guilt, seeing that you our God have punished us less than our iniquities deserve, and have given us such a remnant,
Ezr 9:14 shall we again break your commandments, and join in affinity with the peoples that do these abominations? wouldn't you be angry with us until you had consumed us, so that there should be no remnant, nor any to escape?
Ezr 9:15 Yahweh, the God of Israel, you are righteous; for we are left a remnant that is escaped, as it is this day: behold, we are before you in our guiltiness; for none can stand before you because of this.
Ezr 10:1 Now while Ezra prayed and made confession, weeping and casting himself down before the house of God, there was gathered together to him out of Israel a very great assembly of men and women and children; for the people wept very sore.
Ezr 10:2 Shecaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of Elam, answered Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have married foreign women of the peoples of the land: yet now there is hope for Israel concerning this thing.
Ezr 10:3 Now therefore let us make a covenant with our God to put away all the wives, and such as are born of them, according to the counsel of my lord, and of those who tremble at the commandment of our God; and let it be done according to the law.
Ezr 10:4 Arise; for the matter belongs to you, and we are with you: be of good courage, and do it.
Ezr 10:5 Then arose Ezra, and made the chiefs of the priests, the Levites, and all Israel, to swear that they would do according to this word. So they swore.
Ezr 10:6 Then Ezra rose up from before the house of God, and went into the chamber of Jehohanan the son of Eliashib: and when he came there, he ate no bread, nor drank water; for he mourned because of the trespass of them of the captivity.
Ezr 10:7 They made proclamation throughout Judah and Jerusalem to all the children of the captivity, that they should gather themselves together to Jerusalem;
Ezr 10:8 and that whoever didn't come within three days, according to the counsel of the princes and the elders, all his substance should be forfeited, and himself separated from the assembly of the captivity.
Ezr 10:9 Then all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered themselves together to Jerusalem within the three days; it was the ninth month, on the twentieth day of the month: and all the people sat in the broad place before the house of God, trembling because of this matter, and for the great rain.
Ezr 10:10 Ezra the priest stood up, and said to them, You have trespassed, and have married foreign women, to increase the guilt of Israel.
Ezr 10:11 Now therefore make confession to Yahweh, the God of your fathers, and do his pleasure; and separate yourselves from the peoples of the land, and from the foreign women.
Ezr 10:12 Then all the assembly answered with a loud voice, As you have said concerning us, so must we do.
Ezr 10:13 But the people are many, and it is a time of much rain, and we are not able to stand outside: neither is this a work of one day or two; for we have greatly transgressed in this matter.
Ezr 10:14 Let now our princes be appointed for all the assembly, and let all those who are in our cities who have married foreign women come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city, and its judges, until the fierce wrath of our God be turned from us, until this matter be dispatched.
Ezr 10:15 Only Jonathan the son of Asahel and Jahzeiah the son of Tikvah stood up against this matter: and Meshullam and Shabbethai the Levite helped them.
Ezr 10:16 The children of the captivity did so. Ezra the priest, with certain heads of fathers' houses, after their fathers' houses, and all of them by their names, were set apart; and they sat down in the first day of the tenth month to examine the matter.
Ezr 10:17 They made an end with all the men who had married foreign women by the first day of the first month.
Ezr 10:18 Among the sons of the priests there were found who had married foreign women: namely, of the sons of Jeshua, the son of Jozadak, and his brothers, Maaseiah, and Eliezer, and Jarib, and Gedaliah.
Ezr 10:19 They gave their hand that they would put away their wives; and being guilty, they offered a ram of the flock for their guilt.
Ezr 10:20 Of the sons of Immer: Hanani and Zebadiah.
Ezr 10:21 Of the sons of Harim: Maaseiah, and Elijah, and Shemaiah, and Jehiel, and Uzziah.
Ezr 10:22 Of the sons of Pashhur: Elioenai, Maaseiah, Ishmael, Nethanel, Jozabad, and Elasah.
Ezr 10:23 Of the Levites: Jozabad, and Shimei, and Kelaiah (the same is Kelita), Pethahiah, Judah, and Eliezer.
Ezr 10:24 Of the singers: Eliashib. Of the porters: Shallum, and Telem, and Uri.
Ezr 10:25 Of Israel: Of the sons of Parosh: Ramiah, and Izziah, and Malchijah, and Mijamin, and Eleazar, and Malchijah, and Benaiah.
Ezr 10:26 Of the sons of Elam: Mattaniah, Zechariah, and Jehiel, and Abdi, and Jeremoth, and Elijah.
Ezr 10:27 Of the sons of Zattu: Elioenai, Eliashib, Mattaniah, and Jeremoth, and Zabad, and Aziza.
Ezr 10:28 Of the sons of Bebai: Jehohanan, Hananiah, Zabbai, Athlai.
Ezr 10:29 Of the sons of Bani: Meshullam, Malluch, and Adaiah, Jashub, and Sheal, Jeremoth.
Ezr 10:30 Of the sons of Pahathmoab: Adna, and Chelal, Benaiah, Maaseiah, Mattaniah, Bezalel, and Binnui, and Manasseh.
Ezr 10:31 of the sons of Harim: Eliezer, Isshijah, Malchijah, Shemaiah, Shimeon,
Ezr 10:32 Benjamin, Malluch, Shemariah.
Ezr 10:33 Of the sons of Hashum: Mattenai, Mattattah, Zabad, Eliphelet, Jeremai, Manasseh, Shimei.
Ezr 10:34 Of the sons of Bani: Maadai, Amram, and Uel,
Ezr 10:35 Benaiah, Bedeiah, Cheluhi,
Ezr 10:36 Vaniah, Meremoth, Eliashib,
Ezr 10:37 Mattaniah, Mattenai, and Jaasu,
Ezr 10:38 and Bani, and Binnui, Shimei,
Ezr 10:39 and Shelemiah, and Nathan, and Adaiah,
Ezr 10:40 Machnadebai, Shashai, Sharai,
Ezr 10:41 Azarel, and Shelemiah, Shemariah,
Ezr 10:42 Shallum, Amariah, Joseph.
Ezr 10:43 Of the sons of Nebo: Jeiel, Mattithiah, Zabad, Zebina, Iddo, and Joel, Benaiah.
Ezr 10:44 All these had taken foreign wives; and some of them had wives by whom they had children.
Neh 1:1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah. Now it happened in the month Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Shushan the palace,
Neh 1:2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came, he and certain men out of Judah; and I asked them concerning the Jews who had escaped, who were left of the captivity, and concerning Jerusalem.
Neh 1:3 They said to me, The remnant who are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and its gates are burned with fire.
Neh 1:4 It happened, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days; and I fasted and prayed before the God of heaven,
Neh 1:5 and said, I beg you, Yahweh, the God of heaven, the great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with those who love him and keep his commandments:
Neh 1:6 Let your ear now be attentive, and your eyes open, that you may listen to the prayer of your servant, which I pray before you at this time, day and night, for the children of Israel your servants while I confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Yes, I and my father's house have sinned:
Neh 1:7 we have dealt very corruptly against you, and have not kept the commandments, nor the statutes, nor the ordinances, which you commanded your servant Moses.
Neh 1:8 Remember, I beg you, the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, If you trespass, I will scatter you abroad among the peoples:
Neh 1:9 but if you return to me, and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts were in the uttermost part of the heavens, yet will I gather them from there, and will bring them to the place that I have chosen, to cause my name to dwell there.
Neh 1:10 Now these are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power, and by your strong hand.
Neh 1:11 Lord, I beg you, let your ear be attentive now to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants, who delight to fear your name; and please prosper your servant this day, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man. Now I was cup bearer to the king.
Neh 2:1 It happened in the month Nisan, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes the king, when wine was before him, that I took up the wine, and gave it to the king. Now I had not been before sad in his presence.
Neh 2:2 The king said to me, Why is your face sad, seeing you are not sick? this is nothing else but sorrow of heart. Then I was very sore afraid.
Neh 2:3 I said to the king, Let the king live forever: why should not my face be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' tombs, lies waste, and its gates are consumed with fire?
Neh 2:4 Then the king said to me, For what do you make request? So I prayed to the God of heaven.
Neh 2:5 I said to the king, If it please the king, and if your servant have found favor in your sight, that you would send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers' tombs, that I may build it.
Neh 2:6 The king said to me (the queen also sitting by him), For how long shall your journey be? and when will you return? So it pleased the king to send me; and I set him a time.
Neh 2:7 Moreover I said to the king, If it please the king, let letters be given me to the governors beyond the River, that they may let me pass through until I come to Judah;
Neh 2:8 and a letter to Asaph the keeper of the king's forest, that he may give me timber to make beams for the gates of the castle which appertains to the house, and for the wall of the city, and for the house that I shall enter into. The king granted me, according to the good hand of my God on me.
Neh 2:9 Then I came to the governors beyond the River, and gave them the king's letters. Now the king had sent with me captains of the army and horsemen.
Neh 2:10 When Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly, because a man had come to seek the welfare of the children of Israel.
Neh 2:11 So I came to Jerusalem, and was there three days.
Neh 2:12 I arose in the night, I and some few men with me; neither told I any man what my God put into my heart to do for Jerusalem; neither was there any animal with me, except the animal that I rode on.
Neh 2:13 I went out by night by the valley gate, even toward the jackal's well, and to the dung gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem, which were broken down, and its gates were consumed with fire.
Neh 2:14 Then I went on to the spring gate and to the king's pool: but there was no place for the animal that was under me to pass.
Neh 2:15 Then went I up in the night by the brook, and viewed the wall; and I turned back, and entered by the valley gate, and so returned.
Neh 2:16 The rulers didn't know where I went, or what I did; neither had I as yet told it to the Jews, nor to the priests, nor to the nobles, nor to the rulers, nor to the rest who did the work.
Neh 2:17 Then said I to them, You see the evil case that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire: come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach.
Neh 2:18 I told them of the hand of my God which was good on me, as also of the king's words that he had spoken to me. They said, Let us rise up and build. So they strengthened their hands for the good work.
Neh 2:19 But when Sanballat the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Ammonite, and Geshem the Arabian, heard it, they ridiculed us, and despised us, and said, What is this thing that you do? will you rebel against the king?
Neh 2:20 Then answered I them, and said to them, The God of heaven, he will prosper us; therefore we his servants will arise and build: but you have no portion, nor right, nor memorial, in Jerusalem.
Neh 3:1 Then Eliashib the high priest rose up with his brothers the priests, and they built the sheep gate; they sanctified it, and set up its doors; even to the tower of Hammeah they sanctified it, to the tower of Hananel.
Neh 3:2 Next to him built the men of Jericho. Next to them built Zaccur the son of Imri.
Neh 3:3 The fish gate did the sons of Hassenaah build; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.
Neh 3:4 Next to them repaired Meremoth the son of Uriah, the son of Hakkoz. Next to them repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah, the son of Meshezabel. Next to them repaired Zadok the son of Baana.
Neh 3:5 Next to them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles didn't put their necks to the work of their lord.
Neh 3:6 The old gate repaired Joiada the son of Paseah and Meshullam the son of Besodeiah; they laid its beams, and set up its doors, and its bolts, and its bars.
Neh 3:7 Next to them repaired Melatiah the Gibeonite, and Jadon the Meronothite, the men of Gibeon, and of Mizpah, that appertained to the throne of the governor beyond the River.
Neh 3:8 Next to him repaired Uzziel the son of Harhaiah, goldsmiths. Next to him repaired Hananiah one of the perfumers, and they fortified Jerusalem even to the broad wall.
Neh 3:9 Next to them repaired Rephaiah the son of Hur, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem.
Neh 3:10 Next to them repaired Jedaiah the son of Harumaph, over against his house. Next to him repaired Hattush the son of Hashabneiah.
Neh 3:11 Malchijah the son of Harim, and Hasshub the son of Pahathmoab, repaired another portion, and the tower of the furnaces.
Neh 3:12 Next to him repaired Shallum the son of Hallohesh, the ruler of half the district of Jerusalem, he and his daughters.
Neh 3:13 The valley gate repaired Hanun, and the inhabitants of Zanoah; they built it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and one thousand cubits of the wall to the dung gate.
Neh 3:14 The dung gate repaired Malchijah the son of Rechab, the ruler of the district of Beth Haccherem; he built it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars.
Neh 3:15 The spring gate repaired Shallun the son of Colhozeh, the ruler of the district of Mizpah; he built it, and covered it, and set up its doors, its bolts, and its bars, and the wall of the pool of Shelah by the king's garden, even to the stairs that go down from the city of David.
Neh 3:16 After him repaired Nehemiah the son of Azbuk, the ruler of half the district of Beth Zur, to the place over against the tombs of David, and to the pool that was made, and to the house of the mighty men.
Neh 3:17 After him repaired the Levites, Rehum the son of Bani. Next to him repaired Hashabiah, the ruler of half the district of Keilah, for his district.
Neh 3:18 After him repaired their brothers, Bavvai the son of Henadad, the ruler of half the district of Keilah.
Neh 3:19 Next to him repaired Ezer the son of Jeshua, the ruler of Mizpah, another portion, over against the ascent to the armory at the turning of the wall.
Neh 3:20 After him Baruch the son of Zabbai earnestly repaired another portion, from the turning of the wall to the door of the house of Eliashib the high priest.
Neh 3:21 After him repaired Meremoth the son of Uriah the son of Hakkoz another portion, from the door of the house of Eliashib even to the end of the house of Eliashib.
Neh 3:22 After him repaired the priests, the men of the Plain.
Neh 3:23 After them repaired Benjamin and Hasshub over against their house. After them repaired Azariah the son of Maaseiah the son of Ananiah beside his own house.
Neh 3:24 After him repaired Binnui the son of Henadad another portion, from the house of Azariah to the turning of the wall, and to the corner.
Neh 3:25 Palal the son of Uzai repaired over against the turning of the wall, and the tower that stands out from the upper house of the king, which is by the court of the guard. After him Pedaiah the son of Parosh repaired.
Neh 3:26 (Now the Nethinim lived in Ophel, to the place over against the water gate toward the east, and the tower that stands out.)
Neh 3:27 After him the Tekoites repaired another portion, over against the great tower that stands out, and to the wall of Ophel.
Neh 3:28 Above the horse gate repaired the priests, everyone over against his own house.
Neh 3:29 After them repaired Zadok the son of Immer over against his own house. After him repaired Shemaiah the son of Shecaniah, the keeper of the east gate.
Neh 3:30 After him repaired Hananiah the son of Shelemiah, and Hanun the sixth son of Zalaph, another portion. After him repaired Meshullam the son of Berechiah over against his chamber.
Neh 3:31 After him repaired Malchijah one of the goldsmiths to the house of the Nethinim, and of the merchants, over against the gate of Hammiphkad, and to the ascent of the corner.
Neh 3:32 Between the ascent of the corner and the sheep gate repaired the goldsmiths and the merchants.
Neh 4:1 But it happened that when Sanballat heard that we were building the wall, he was angry, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews.
Neh 4:2 He spoke before his brothers and the army of Samaria, and said, What are these feeble Jews doing? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make an end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of rubbish, seeing they are burned?
Neh 4:3 Now Tobiah the Ammonite was by him, and he said, Even that which they are building, if a fox go up, he shall break down their stone wall.
Neh 4:4 Hear, our God; for we are despised: and turn back their reproach on their own head, and give them up for a spoil in a land of captivity;
Neh 4:5 and don't cover their iniquity, and don't let their sin be blotted out from before you; for they have provoked you to anger before the builders.
Neh 4:6 So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together to half the height of it: for the people had a mind to work.
Neh 4:7 But it happened that when Sanballat, Tobiah, the Arabians, the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites heard that the repairing of the walls of Jerusalem went forward, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very angry;
Neh 4:8 and they conspired all of them together to come and fight against Jerusalem, and to cause confusion therein.
Neh 4:9 But we made our prayer to our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them.
Neh 4:10 Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.
Neh 4:11 Our adversaries said, They shall not know, neither see, until we come into the midst of them, and kill them, and cause the work to cease.
Neh 4:12 It happened that when the Jews who lived by them came, they said to us ten times from all places, You must return to us.
Neh 4:13 Therefore set I in the lowest parts of the space behind the wall, in the open places, I set there the people after their families with their swords, their spears, and their bows.
Neh 4:14 I looked, and rose up, and said to the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Don't be afraid of them: remember the Lord, who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.
Neh 4:15 It happened, when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and God had brought their counsel to nothing, that we returned all of us to the wall, everyone to his work.
Neh 4:16 It happened from that time forth, that half of my servants worked in the work, and half of them held the spears, the shields, and the bows, and the coats of mail; and the rulers were behind all the house of Judah.
Neh 4:17 They all built the wall and those who bore burdens loaded themselves; everyone with one of his hands worked in the work, and with the other held his weapon;
Neh 4:18 and the builders, everyone had his sword girded by his side, and so built. He who sounded the trumpet was by me.
Neh 4:19 I said to the nobles, and to the rulers and to the rest of the people, The work is great and large, and we are separated on the wall, one far from another:
Neh 4:20 in whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally there to us; our God will fight for us.
Neh 4:21 So we worked in the work: and half of them held the spears from the rising of the morning until the stars appeared.
Neh 4:22 Likewise at the same time said I to the people, Let everyone with his servant lodge within Jerusalem, that in the night they may be a guard to us, and may labor in the day.
Neh 4:23 So neither I, nor my brothers, nor my servants, nor the men of the guard who followed me, none of us put off our clothes, everyone went with his weapon to the water.
Neh 5:1 Then there arose a great cry of the people and of their wives against their brothers the Jews.
Neh 5:2 For there were that said, We, our sons and our daughters, are many: let us get grain, that we may eat and live.
Neh 5:3 Some also there were that said, We are mortgaging our fields, and our vineyards, and our houses: let us get grain, because of the dearth.
Neh 5:4 There were also that said, We have borrowed money for the king's tribute on our fields and our vineyards.
Neh 5:5 Yet now our flesh is as the flesh of our brothers, our children as their children: and behold, we bring into bondage our sons and our daughters to be servants, and some of our daughters are brought into bondage already: neither is it in our power to help it; for other men have our fields and our vineyards.
Neh 5:6 I was very angry when I heard their cry and these words.
Neh 5:7 Then I consulted with myself, and contended with the nobles and the rulers, and said to them, You exact usury, everyone of his brother. I held a great assembly against them.
Neh 5:8 I said to them, We after our ability have redeemed our brothers the Jews, that were sold to the nations; and would you even sell your brothers, and should they be sold to us? Then held they their peace, and found never a word.
Neh 5:9 Also I said, The thing that you do is not good: ought you not to walk in the fear of our God, because of the reproach of the nations our enemies?
Neh 5:10 I likewise, my brothers and my servants, do lend them money and grain. Please let us leave off this usury.
Neh 5:11 Please restore to them, even this day, their fields, their vineyards, their olive groves, and their houses, also the hundredth part of the money, and of the grain, the new wine, and the oil, that you exact of them.
Neh 5:12 Then said they, We will restore them, and will require nothing of them; so will we do, even as you say. Then I called the priests, and took an oath of them, that they would do according to this promise.
Neh 5:13 Also I shook out my lap, and said, So God shake out every man from his house, and from his labor, that doesn't perform this promise; even thus be he shaken out, and emptied. All the assembly said, Amen, and praised Yahweh. The people did according to this promise.
Neh 5:14 Moreover from the time that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah, from the twentieth year even to the two and thirtieth year of Artaxerxes the king, that is, twelve years, I and my brothers have not eaten the bread of the governor.
Neh 5:15 But the former governors who were before me were supported by the people, and took bread and wine from them, besides forty shekels of silver; yes, even their servants ruled over the people: but I didn't do so, because of the fear of God.
Neh 5:16 Yes, also I continued in the work of this wall, neither bought we any land: and all my servants were gathered there to the work.
Neh 5:17 Moreover there were at my table, of the Jews and the rulers, one hundred fifty men, besides those who came to us from among the nations that were around us.
Neh 5:18 Now that which was prepared for one day was one ox and six choice sheep; also fowls were prepared for me, and once in ten days store of all sorts of wine: yet for all this I didn't demand the bread of the governor, because the bondage was heavy on this people.
Neh 5:19 Remember to me, my God, for good, all that I have done for this people.
Neh 6:1 Now it happened, when it was reported to Sanballat and Tobiah, and to Geshem the Arabian, and to the rest of our enemies, that I had built the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though even to that time I had not set up the doors in the gates;)
Neh 6:2 that Sanballat and Geshem sent to me, saying, Come, let us meet together in one of the villages in the plain of Ono. But they thought to do me mischief.
Neh 6:3 I sent messengers to them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I can't come down: why should the work cease, while I leave it, and come down to you?
Neh 6:4 They sent to me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner.
Neh 6:5 Then sent Sanballat his servant to me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand,
Neh 6:6 in which was written, It is reported among the nations, and Gashmu says it, that you and the Jews think to rebel; for which cause you are building the wall: and you would be their king, according to these words.
Neh 6:7 You have also appointed prophets to preach of you at Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together.
Neh 6:8 Then I sent to him, saying, There are no such things done as you say, but you imagine them out of your own heart.
Neh 6:9 For they all would have made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the work, that it not be done. But now, God, strengthen my hands.
Neh 6:10 I went to the house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabel, who was shut up; and he said, Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of the temple: for they will come to kill you; yes, in the night will they come to kill you.
Neh 6:11 I said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there that, being such as I, would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in.
Neh 6:12 I discerned, and behold, God had not sent him; but he pronounced this prophecy against me: and Tobiah and Sanballat had hired him.
Neh 6:13 For this cause was he hired, that I should be afraid, and do so, and sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me.
Neh 6:14 Remember, my God, Tobiah and Sanballat according to these their works, and also the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the prophets, that would have put me in fear.
Neh 6:15 So the wall was finished in the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty-two days.
Neh 6:16 It happened, when all our enemies heard of it, that all the nations that were about us feared, and were much cast down in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was worked of our God.
Neh 6:17 Moreover in those days the nobles of Judah sent many letters to Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came to them.
Neh 6:18 For there were many in Judah sworn to him, because he was the son-in-law of Shecaniah the son of Arah; and his son Jehohanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of Berechiah as wife.
Neh 6:19 Also they spoke of his good deeds before me, and reported my words to him. Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear.
Aug. 7, 8
Act 22:1 "Brothers and fathers, listen to the defense which I now make to you."
Act 22:2 When they heard that he spoke to them in the Hebrew language, they were even more quiet. He said,
Act 22:3 "I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, instructed according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God, even as you all are this day.
Act 22:4 I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women.
Act 22:5 As also the high priest and all the council of the elders testify, from whom also I received letters to the brothers, and traveled to Damascus to bring them also who were there to Jerusalem in bonds to be punished.
Act 22:6 It happened that, as I made my journey, and came close to Damascus, about noon, suddenly there shone from the sky a great light around me.
Act 22:7 I fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to me, 'Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?'
Act 22:8 I answered, 'Who are you, Lord?' He said to me, 'I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you persecute.'
Act 22:9 "Those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid, but they didn't understand the voice of him who spoke to me.
Act 22:10 I said, 'What shall I do, Lord?' The Lord said to me, 'Arise, and go into Damascus. There you will be told about all things which are appointed for you to do.'
Act 22:11 When I couldn't see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.
Act 22:12 One Ananias, a devout man according to the law, well reported of by all the Jews who lived in Damascus,
Act 22:13 came to me, and standing by me said to me, 'Brother Saul, receive your sight!' In that very hour I looked up at him.
Act 22:14 He said, 'The God of our fathers has appointed you to know his will, and to see the Righteous One, and to hear a voice from his mouth.
Act 22:15 For you will be a witness for him to all men of what you have seen and heard.
Act 22:16 Now why do you wait? Arise, be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord.'
Act 22:17 "It happened that, when I had returned to Jerusalem, and while I prayed in the temple, I fell into a trance,
Act 22:18 and saw him saying to me, 'Hurry and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not receive testimony concerning me from you.'
Act 22:19 I said, 'Lord, they themselves know that I imprisoned and beat in every synagogue those who believed in you.
Act 22:20 When the blood of Stephen, your witness, was shed, I also was standing by, and consenting to his death, and guarding the cloaks of those who killed him.'
Act 22:21 "He said to me, 'Depart, for I will send you out far from here to the Gentiles.' "
Act 22:22 They listened to him until he said that; then they lifted up their voice, and said, "Rid the earth of this fellow, for he isn't fit to live!"
Act 22:23 As they cried out, and threw off their cloaks, and threw dust into the air,
Act 22:24 the commanding officer commanded him to be brought into the barracks, ordering him to be examined by scourging, that he might know for what crime they shouted against him like that.
Act 22:25 When they had tied him up with thongs, Paul asked the centurion who stood by, "Is it lawful for you to scourge a man who is a Roman, and not found guilty?"
Act 22:26 When the centurion heard it, he went to the commanding officer and told him, "Watch what you are about to do, for this man is a Roman!"
Act 22:27 The commanding officer came and asked him, "Tell me, are you a Roman?" He said, "Yes."
Act 22:28 The commanding officer answered, "I bought my citizenship for a great price." Paul said, "But I was born a Roman."
Act 22:29 Immediately those who were about to examine him departed from him, and the commanding officer also was afraid when he realized that he was a Roman, because he had bound him.
Act 22:30 But on the next day, desiring to know the truth about why he was accused by the Jews, he freed him from the bonds, and commanded the chief priests and all the council to come together, and brought Paul down and set him before them.
Aug. 9, 10
Act 23:1 Paul, looking steadfastly at the council, said, "Brothers, I have lived before God in all good conscience until this day."
Act 23:2 The high priest, Ananias, commanded those who stood by him to strike him on the mouth.
Act 23:3 Then Paul said to him, "God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to judge me according to the law, and command me to be struck contrary to the law?"
Act 23:4 Those who stood by said, "Do you malign God's high priest?"
Act 23:5 Paul said, "I didn't know, brothers, that he was high priest. For it is written, 'You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.' "
Act 23:6 But when Paul perceived that the one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, "Men and brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. Concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!"
Act 23:7 When he had said this, an argument arose between the Pharisees and Sadducees, and the assembly was divided.
Act 23:8 For the Sadducees say that there is no resurrection, nor angel, nor spirit; but the Pharisees confess all of these.
Act 23:9 A great clamor arose, and some of the scribes of the Pharisees part stood up, and contended, saying, "We find no evil in this man. But if a spirit or angel has spoken to him, let's not fight against God!"
Act 23:10 When a great argument arose, the commanding officer, fearing that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them, and bring him into the barracks.
Act 23:11 The following night, the Lord stood by him, and said, "Cheer up, Paul, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must testify also at Rome."
Act 23:12 When it was day, some of the Jews banded together, and bound themselves under a curse, saying that they would neither eat nor drink until they had killed Paul.
Act 23:13 There were more than forty people who had made this conspiracy.
Act 23:14 They came to the chief priests and the elders, and said, "We have bound ourselves under a great curse, to taste nothing until we have killed Paul.
Act 23:15 Now therefore, you with the council inform the commanding officer that he should bring him down to you tomorrow, as though you were going to judge his case more exactly. We are ready to kill him before he comes near."
Act 23:16 But Paul's sister's son heard of their lying in wait, and he came and entered into the barracks and told Paul.
Act 23:17 Paul summoned one of the centurions, and said, "Bring this young man to the commanding officer, for he has something to tell him."
Act 23:18 So he took him, and brought him to the commanding officer, and said, "Paul, the prisoner, summoned me and asked me to bring this young man to you, who has something to tell you."
Act 23:19 The commanding officer took him by the hand, and going aside, asked him privately, "What is it that you have to tell me?"
Act 23:20 He said, "The Jews have agreed to ask you to bring Paul down to the council tomorrow, as though intending to inquire somewhat more accurately concerning him.
Act 23:21 Therefore don't yield to them, for more than forty men lie in wait for him, who have bound themselves under a curse neither to eat nor to drink until they have killed him. Now they are ready, looking for the promise from you."
Act 23:22 So the commanding officer let the young man go, charging him, "Tell no one that you have revealed these things to me."
Act 23:23 He called to himself two of the centurions, and said, "Prepare two hundred soldiers to go as far as Caesarea, with seventy horsemen, and two hundred men armed with spears, at the third hour of the night."
Act 23:24 He asked them to provide animals, that they might set Paul on one, and bring him safely to Felix the governor.
Act 23:25 He wrote a letter like this:
Act 23:26 "Claudius Lysias to the most excellent governor Felix: Greetings.
Act 23:27 "This man was seized by the Jews, and was about to be killed by them, when I came with the soldiers and rescued him, having learned that he was a Roman.
Act 23:28 Desiring to know the cause why they accused him, I brought him down to their council.
Act 23:29 I found him to be accused about questions of their law, but not to be charged with anything worthy of death or of imprisonment.
Act 23:30 When I was told that the Jews lay in wait for the man, I sent him to you immediately, charging his accusers also to bring their accusations against him before you. Farewell."
Act 23:31 So the soldiers, carrying out their orders, took Paul and brought him by night to Antipatris.
Act 23:32 But on the next day they left the horsemen to go with him, and returned to the barracks.
Act 23:33 When they came to Caesarea and delivered the letter to the governor, they also presented Paul to him.
Act 23:34 When the governor had read it, he asked what province he was from. When he understood that he was from Cilicia, he said,
Act 23:35 "I will hear you fully when your accusers also arrive." He commanded that he be kept in Herod's palace.