12/16/19

"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES" The Preacher's Observations - II (5:1-6:12) by Mark Copeland



"THE BOOK OF ECCLESIASTES"
The Preacher's Observations - II (5:1-6:12)


INTRODUCTION

1. The Preacher has been explaining WHY he reached his conclusion that
   life "under the sun" is vanity...
   a. Based upon his personal experience - 1:1-2:26
   b. Based upon his personal observations - 3:1-6:12

2. In chapters 3 and 4, we saw where he discussed...
   a. The inexplicable purpose of God
   b. The injustice and oppression of men
   c. The vanity of skillful and selfish work

3. Even so, he offered wisdom for living "under the sun"...
   a. It is best to rejoice, do good, and enjoy the good of one's 
      labor, realizing that such is a gift of God to those who please Him - 3:12-13
   b. To appreciate the value of friends who can help us in time of
      work and need - 4:9-10

[In chapters 5 and 6, he offers more wisdom as he continues to share
his wisdom for living "under the sun".  Notice his...]

I. COUNSEL REGARDING WORSHIP

   A. WHY PROPER WORSHIP IS IMPORTANT...
      1. Remember, the ability to enjoy the good of one's labor is a
         gift from God - 2:24-26; 3:12-14; 6:19
      2. It is imperative that we please Him in our worship
         a. There is "vain worship", you know - cf. Mt 15:7-9
         b. Therefore not all worship is acceptable to God

   B. HOW TO WORSHIP GOD...
      1. Walk prudently - 5:1a
         a. Both the NIV and NASB say "Guard your steps"
         b. When one worships...
            1) They should give thought to what they will do
            2) They should be careful what they will do
      2. Draw near to hear - 5:1b
         a. We should be concerned with learning what God has revealed
         b. Our attitude should be like that of...
            1) Young Samuel ("Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.")- 1Sa 3:9-10
            2) The Bereans ("they received the word with all readiness") - Ac 17:11
      3. Do not offer the sacrifice of fools - 5:1c
         a. Again, not all worship is acceptable
         b. There is that kind of worship...
            1) That is an abomination to God - Pr 28:9
            2) That the Lord will not accept - cf. Lk 6:46
      4. Don't be rash with your vows (promises) - 5:2-3
         a. Be careful what you say; remember...
            1) Jephthah's foolish vow - Judg 11:30-35
            2) Herod's foolish promise - Mk 6:23-26
         b. Give thought to what you say in prayer and song
            1) Do you consider the vows of commitment that are often made?
            2) Do you intend to keep them?
      5. Keep the vows you make - 5:4-7
         a. God has no pleasure in fools
            1) Such as those who make vows and do not fulfill them
            2) Therefore it is better not to vow, then to vow and not pay
         b. Don't let your mouth cause you to sin
            1) Why make God angry, and destroy the work of your hands?
            2) Many words lead to vanity, and sin - cf. Pr 10:19; Mt 12:36-37

[The key thought in proper worship is to "fear God", that is, to
approach Him with the deepest respect and reverence.  Worship Him as He
directs, not as you might wish.  "Swift to hear, slow to speak" (Ja
1:19) should be our attitude in worship if we wish to please God!

In the next two verses of our text, we see a word of...]

II. COMFORT REGARDING OPPRESSION

   A. OPPRESSION DOES OCCUR...
      1. As the Preacher observed in 3:16
      2. And again in 4:1

   B. YET THE PREACHER SAYS DO NOT MARVEL...
      1. Even when there is oppression of the poor and perversion of
         justice - 5:8a
      2. For even high officials answer to someone else - 5:8b; cf.Ro 13:1
         a. Often in this life they are brought to justice
         b. But even if not, then there is the Day of Judgment!
      3. The profit taken in oppression usually comes back to all - 5:9
         a. Those who oppress others to gain much rarely consume it all
         b. What profit from the land they gain "trickles down" eventually

[Of course, oppression of the poor and perversion of justice is often
motivated by the desire to be rich.  So we should not be surprised to
find the Preacher returning to the vanity of riches as he offers words of...]

III. CAUTION REGARDING RICHES

   A. RICHES ARE VANITY...
      1. Because they are unable to truly satisfy - 5:10-12
         a. Lovers of silver and abundance will never be satiated
         b. As they increase, so their desire for more will increase
      2. Because those obsessed with riches are hurt by them - 5:13-17
         a. Riches can hurt those who possess them
            1) While a laboring man enjoys sweet sleep...
            2) ...the abundance of the rich provides too much turmoil for restful
                sleep!
         b. Through misfortune, or eventually through death, one loses their riches
              -- What value then are riches, if in the acquisition of them
            one must endure much sorrow, sickness, and anger? - cf. Pro
            15:16-17; 17:1

   B. THE PREACHER'S OBSERVATIONS CONCERNING RICHES...
      1. It is good to enjoy the good of one's labor - 5:18
      2. But it is God who give one the power to truly enjoy them - 5:19-20
      3. A sad situation is where God gives one the ability to acquire
         riches, but not enjoy them! - 6:1-2
      4. It matters little if one lives long and has a hundred children...
         a. Unless one is able to be satisfied (a gift which God 
            gives), he is worse off than a still-born child! - 6:3-5
         b. Even if he lives two thousand years! - 6:6
      5. Riches in of themselves cannot satisfy the soul - 6:7-9
         a. His body might be filled, but that is not what fills the soul
         b. It is better to be content with what you see, than to 
            wander after for what you desire
      6. Riches really can't change things - 6:10-11
         a. He is still "man", and cannot contend with God
         b. They are not the things that truly make man better, they
             only increase vanity
      7. The answers to life's questions can't be found in striving for riches - 6:12

CONCLUSION

1. In asking questions like...
   a. "For who knows what is good for man in life, all the days of his
      vain life which he passes like a shadow?" - 6:12a
   b. "Who can tell a man what will happen after him under the sun?" - 6:12b
   ...the Preacher illustrates the vanity of looking to riches for the answers

2. Indeed, the answers are to be found by turning to God, not riches;
   which is why...
   a. One needs to be careful in their worship of God!
   b. We should draw near to hear what God has revealed through His Word!

It is particularly through "The Word" (Jesus, Jn 1:1) that we learn the
ultimate answers to the questions that challenged the Preacher.  For
Jesus has "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light
through the gospel." (2Ti 1:10).

Ecclesiastes tells us that the answers to life are not found in the 
things of this life.  Are we willing to therefore heed Him who is the
Creator of life and is the light of men? - Jn 1:2-4

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2016

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The Fall of Tyre by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.



The Fall of Tyre

by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

Like Sidon, its “mother” city twenty-five miles to the north (Isaiah 23:12), Tyre straddled both island and mainland. Although barren and rocky, the offshore portion occupied a seemingly impregnable position, and may have supported as many as forty thousand inhabitants (Pfeiffer, 1966, p. 591). A small bay on the northern end of the island formed one of the best natural harbors along this stretch of the Mediterranean coast. Most important, the city stood at the crossroads of a worldwide trading network stretching from Europe to the Far East, and from Asia Minor to Egypt. Home-grown products included glassware and a fine purple cloth (which was favored by royalty and dyed with an extract of the local Murex marine snail).
Tyre began its rise to prominence with the plundering of Sidon by Philistines around 1200 B.C. The influx of refugees and the temporary loss of competition spurred a period of great growth. Dealers and shipping merchants grew fabulously rich (Isaiah 23:8). They used their wealth to create a “stronghold of Tyre” (2 Samuel 24:7; see also Joshua 19:29), and bought peace by paying hefty tributes to whatever superpower was in control at the time.
Hiram I of Tyre (c. 979-945 B.C.) ushered in a “golden age” by uniting the Phoenician city-states under one rule, building temples to the deities of Melqart and Astarte, constructing a breakwater to create a harbor on the southern side, and connecting the two ports with a canal. In between periods of foreign influence, Tyre continued to expand its economic reach, including the founding of Carthage in 814 B.C.
This growth coincided with the reigns of Israel’s most powerful kings, David and Solomon, so it is not surprising that we should find considerable contact between these neighbors. After all, little more than a hundred miles separated Tyre from Jerusalem. (Facts like these are hard to keep in mind, given the larger-than-life significance of the events played out in this tiny corner of the world.) In fact, the Phoenician port crops up frequently in biblical history, poetry, and prophecy. David relied on Tyre’s resources for the building of his royal palace in Jerusalem (2 Samuel 5:11). Solomon went further, drawing on its materials and skilled workmen for the construction of the great temple in exchange for territory (1 Kings 7:11), and on their seafaring prowess for the founding of a fleet at the Red Sea port of Ezion-Geber (1 Kings 9:27). It is to Tyre that the repatriated exiles turned for the rebuilding of Jerusalem under the grant of Cyrus (Ezra 3:7). Of all the rulers, Ahab went the farthest by establishing a political alliance with Tyre. This he confirmed by a marriage to Jezebel, daughter of Ethbaal (1 Kings 16:31), Tyre’s ruler/high priest who had overthrown King Phelles. As biblical history makes quite clear, this unholy compact had disastrous consequences for Samaria (1 Kings 13:31-33).
Of all the prophets, the book of Ezekiel devotes the most attention to Tyre (chapters 26-28). The revelation begins by citing the city’s notorious opportunism as one reason for its ultimate demise (26:2-3). As noted previously, Tyrian merchants had much to lose by an interruption of regular commerce, and could afford to buy peace with their enemies. Frequently, these treaties brought the city-state into alliance with other nations against Israel (Psalm 83). Despite the mutual respect that existed in the time of Hiram, the king’s successors took advantage of God’s people in their moments of weakness (Joel 3:4-6; Amos 1:9). Of course, divine condemnation would come on all nations, including Tyre, that acted against the people of God (Jeremiah 25:14-29). One of Tyre’s rulers also claimed to be a god, and this individual’s transgression constituted a further indictment against the city (Ezekiel 28:2).
What is most notable about Ezekiel’s prophecy is the accuracy of its fulfillment. Although secular records are not sufficiently complete to provide an independent confirmation of every detail, chapter 26 makes at least seven definite predictions that can be tested against historical data (see table below).
PREDICTIONFULFILLMENT
1. Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon shall destroy the mainland (“field” KJV) portion of Tyre (Ezekiel 26:7-8).1. Nebuchadnezzar II laid siege to Tyre for thirteen years beginning in 585-586 B.C. During this time, the inhabitants transferred most of their valuables to the island. The king seized Tyre’s mainland territories but returned to Babylon, finding himself unable to subdue the island fortress militarily (cf. 29:18). Tyre, weakened by the conflict, soon recognized Babylonian authority, which effectively ended the city’s autonomy and any aspirations for a greater Phoenicia.
2. Other nations are to participate in the fulfillment of the prophecy (vs. 3).2. Following the Babylonian period, Tyre remained in subjection to Persia from 538-332 B.C. Alexander the Great besieged and captured the port in 332 B.C., and Ptolemies, Seleucids, Romans, and Muslim Arabs all had their turn at rule. After passing briefly into the hands of the Crusaders, the city was destroyed completely by the Mamluks (former Muslim soldier-slaves) in A.D. 1291.
3. The city is to be flattened, like the top of a rock (vss. 4,14).3. Like Nebuchadnezzar, Alexander was stymied by Tyre’s natural moat. The brilliant Macedonian was not so quick to give up, however. He used the building materials of the mainland city, and any other rocks and soil in the immediate vicinity, to build a causeway to the island. His complete conquest of Tyre took only seven months.
4. It is to become a place for the spreading of nets (vss. 5,14).4. The waters around Tyre were renowned in ancient times for their fishing (Liverani, 1988, 5:932). This was all the fame the city could claim after its complete decimation by Alexander.
5. Its stones and timbers are to be laid in the sea (vs. 12).5. As noted in item 3 above, the building of the causeway came from the remains of the mainland city. Sands carried by currents have built up a spit or tombolo around the causeway, forming a permanent connection between the island and the mainland.
6. Other cities are to fear greatly at the fall of Tyre (vss. 15-18).6. Many fortified cities in the region capitulated to Alexander after they saw the genius and relative ease with which he captured Tyre.
7. The city will not be inhabited or rebuilt (vss. 20-21).7. Alexander sold almost all of Tyre’s inhabitants into slavery, and the city forever lost its importance on the world stage. Any vestiges of strength and power disappeared with the destruction of the Crusader fortress. Soûr, as it is known by Arabs today, is a small town in southern Lebanon with a population of about 14,000 (1990 estimate; refugees have inflated that number significantly in the last several years).
Table comparing the prophecy of Tyre with available historical information
In their book, Science Speaks, Peter W. Stoner and Robert C. Newman attempt to attach some real-world, but conservative, probabilities to each of these seven predictions (1976, pp. 72-79). If, for a moment, we assume that Ezekiel made some guesses about Tyre’s fate, what would be the chance that he could get, not just one partially correct, but all correct in every detail? That chance turns out to be 1 in 75,000,000. To give a practical analogy, an individual is twice as likely to be killed on the ground by an airplane during his or her lifetime, than to make these seven predictions and have them all come true. Or, to take a less morbid approach, this probability would be on the same order as flipping a coin and getting heads 26 times in a row (“26” may not seem a big number, but just try it some time!). Truly, the divine judgment of Tyre, and the accuracy of Ezekiel’s prophecy, provide a great demonstration of God’s presence in human affairs.

REFERENCES

Liverani, M. (1988), “Tyre,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. G.W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 5:932-934.
Pfeiffer, C.F. (1966), The Biblical World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Stoner, Peter W. and Robert C. Newman (1976), Science Speaks (Chicago, IL: Moody).

The Death of Biblical Minimalism by Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.





The Death of Biblical Minimalism

by Dewayne Bryant, Ph.D.


It is a good time to be a Christian. Information is more readily available and accessible than ever before. Whether it appears in books, in articles in print and on Web sites, or in podcasts and other media formats, Christian apologists are producing vast amounts of material in defense of the Christian Faith. In the field of archaeology alone, new discoveries are unearthed every year, adding to our body of knowledge about the biblical world. Because of new information, old theories are being continually revised and refined. In some cases, this information is completely overturning critical theories.
The May/June 2011 issue of Biblical Archaeology Review is an exciting one. On the cover, some of the topics of the issue are listed, at the top of which are the words, “The End of Biblical Minimalism.” Minimalists are those who believe that only the barest minimum of the Bible is true, and then only if it can be incontrovertibly corroborated by extrabiblical evidence. This perspective is one that is eminently skeptical of the Bible. This is not how ancient documents are generally treated, which naturally raises suspicion that the Bible is being treated with a double standard for no other reason than that it is the Word of God. Speaking a little more generously than usual, minimalist Philip Davies claims that the Bible is indispensible for the historian, even though its “stories may be false, true, or a mixture of fact and fiction” (Davies, 2008, p. 5). For those who see the biblical text as a purely manmade production, the Bible is a mixture of a few facts and mostly fiction. As senior Israeli archaeologist Israel Finkelstein puts it,
The historical saga contained in the Bible—from Abraham’s encounter with God and his journey to Canaan, to Moses’ deliverance of the children of Israel from bondage, to the rise and fall of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah—was not a miraculous revelation, but a brilliant product of the human imagination (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2001, p. 1).
The article, “The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism” written by archaeologist Yosef Garfinkle, traces the biblical minimalist position from its inception 30 years ago to the present time, where discoveries have undermined it to the point of it becoming untenable. He focuses on one of the hot-button issues in archaeology: the existence of the United Monarchy.
For biblical minimalists, the United Monarchy is very nearly a fiction. They believe that if David and Solomon existed, they were nothing more than petty chieftains. Hoffmeier summarizes the minimalist position this way: “[I]f David and Solomon did exist, they were simply pastorialist chieftains from the hills of Judea, and the military exploits of David and the glories of Solomon were gross exaggerations from later times” (Hoffmeier, 2008, p. 87). In other words, there were no grand palaces and no royal inscriptions. In short—no kingdom.
Garfinkle focuses on one particular archaeological site called Khirbet Qeiyafa, where he serves as co-director of the dig. In ancient times, it was a heavily fortified town on the Israelite/Philistine border in Judah. This one site, as small and out-of-the-way as it is, has done a great deal to dismantle biblical minimalism. Garfinkle states: “The argument that Judah was an agrarian society until the end of tenth century B.C.E. and that David and Solomon could not have ruled over a centralized, institutionalized kingdom before then has now been blown to smithereens by our excavations at Khirbet Qeiyafa” (Garfinkle, 2011, p. 50). Discoveries at the site clearly demonstrate that a large bureaucracy was needed to construct the town. The site had massive walls, far beyond the ability of a couple of petty chieftains to construct. Also found at the site was the earliest example of Hebrew (although it is written in a different kind of script). This kind of writing could only be produced by a scribe who had been trained for government service. Since the site was in a remote location, it must have been important enough to justify sending a scribe from Jerusalem. That could only be done if there was a government of sufficient size with the resources and ability to train professional scribes. As Finkelstein himself states: “The power of the chief was limited…. The economic and military capacity of a chiefdom was severely limited” (Finkelstein and Silberman, 2006, p. 99). Khirbet Qeiyafa could not have been built, fortified, or administrated by a chieftain. It required a king.
As one of the chief proponents of the idea that the United Monarchy is largely fiction, Israel Finkelstein has developed what is called the “Low Chronology.” This approach states that whatever evidence that exists that might point to a tenth century B.C. kingdom under David and Solomon has been misinterpreted. Instead, the credit for building activity thought to have taken place during the time of the United Monarchy should go to the ninth century king Ahab instead. Though architecture can be difficult to date accurately at times, Finkelstein has yet to win many converts. With the information being unearthed at Khirbet Qeiyafa, he may even find himself losing what support he already has.
Finkelstein is commonly labeled a minimalist, although he denies that label. He does share many things in common with biblical minimalists, such as a skeptical attitude toward the Bible and a clear bias in interpreting the archaeological evidence. This goes against standard procedure among scholarship. Generally, ancient texts are given the benefit of the doubt unless sufficient reason exists to doubt their veracity. Since the Bible has a long track record of accuracy, to dismiss it out of hand shows a clear bias against it. Second, evidence should drive interpretation and lead to conclusions—not start with conclusions and interpret all the evidence to support those conclusions. Finkelstein’s skepticism points to a preconceived conclusion that seeks evidence to justify itself, which, naturally, can only be done poorly. 
Radiocarbon dating provides a solid link between the ancient evidence and the biblical text. Garfinkle states: “Independent dating suggests that the kingdom of Judah rose in approximately 1000 B.C.E., as indicated by the radiometric results from Qeiyafa. The northern kingdom of Israel, on the other hand, developed around 900 B.C.E., as indicated by the radiometric dates obtained from that region. The Biblical tradition and the radiometric dating actually support each other” (Garfinkle, 2011, p. 52). [EDITOR’S NOTE: For a discussion of the weaknesses of radiocarbon and radiometric dating techniques, see DeYoung, 2005.] The radiometric dating of wood fragments and olive pits at the site indicates that the site was built in the late eleventh century and destroyed in the early tenth century. Since this is precisely the time of the reign of king David, it would appear that David ruled a well-organized kingdom.
This small site has yielded a wealth of evidence that clearly demonstrates the shortcomings of biblical minimalism, although it remains on life support thanks to the hyper-skepticism of a few noted archaeologists. Even William Dever—who is no friend to the traditional interpretation of Scripture—has fiercely opposed the minimalists, whom he calls “revisionists.” He says, “the ‘revisionists’…declare that ‘the Hebrew Bible is not about history at all,’ i.e., it is mere propaganda. For them, if some of the Bible stories are unhistorical, they all are—a rather simplistic notion” (Dever, 2001, p. 97). It is the typical case of “throwing the baby out with the bathwater”: the Bible is a religious book, therefore it cannot be historically accurate. Ongoing excavations argue otherwise.
There are many other discoveries besides those at Khirbet Qeiyafa that argue for the presence of a centralized government in ancient Israel at the time David ruled. The Izbet Sartah Inscription is an example of writing dating to the time of the judges (Hess, 2002, p. 86). The inscription seems to be a practice exercise used to learn the alphabet. This is particularly noteworthy, since Izbet Sartah was a small village in the hill country in the eleventh century B.C. Even in this small village, at least one scribe was practicing his alphabet. The same goes for tenth century inscriptions, such as the Tell Zayit Inscription and the Gezer Calendar, which also appear to be practice exercises used in training scribes. These examples of writing would never have appeared without considerable governmental organization.
In his book On the Reliability of the Old Testament, Kenneth Kitchen surveys the history of minimalism over the past two centuries. He notes that “our present-day minimalists are not a sudden, new phenomenon without precedent. It all began a long time ago, and the present efflorescence is merely a development of some 150/200 years that has in a way come to a head, but simply more scathing of others and more extreme in its views than were its precursors” (Kitchen, 2003, p. 449, italics in orig.). Emerging at a time when the study of the ancient Near East was in its infancy, it could only be expected that time would prove the minimalist’s assumptions false. As mountains of evidence have come to light, minimalism is looking more and more like a thing of the past. Biblical scholarship has a long track record of confounding the critics, and it isn’t stopping anytime soon.
Though much of the minimalists’ work is respected by other scholars, they are supremely guilty of allowing their biases to dictate their interpretation of the evidence. They make selective use of the facts and ignore or reinterpret evidence that disagrees with their position. Some of them grew up in fundamentalist homes, giving the impression that their interpretations are more the result of rejecting the faith of their early years rather than sound scholarship. This approach can be maintained only so long before the body of evidence will get to the point of being beyond their ability to manipulate. The archaeologist’s spade will continue to unearth more evidence season by season, year after year. It is only a matter of time before the minimalist position will become a relic enshrined in the museum of discarded ideas.

REFERENCES

Davies, Philip R. (2008), Memories of Ancient Israel: An Introduction to Biblical History—Ancient and Modern (Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press).
Dever, William G. (2001), What Did The Biblical Writers Know & When Did They Know It? (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).
Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2001), The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology’s New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts (New York, NY: Touchstone).
Finkelstein, Israel and Neil Asher Silberman (2006), David and Solomon: In Search of the Bible’s Sacred Kings and the Roots of the Western Tradition (New York, NY: Free Press).
Garfinkle, Yosef (2011), “The Birth and Death of Biblical Minimalism,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 37[3]:46-53,78, May/June.
Hess, Richard S. (2002), “Literacy in Iron Age Israel” in V. Long, D. Baker, and G. Wenham, Windows into Old Testament History: Evidence, Argument, and the Crisis of “Biblical Israel” (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), pp. 82-102.
Hoffmeier, James K (2008), The Archaeology of the Bible (Oxford: Lion Hudson).
Kitchen, Kenneth A. (2003), On the Reliability of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

The Dead Sea Scrolls—Seeing The Evidence Upclose by Kyle Butt, M.Div.





The Dead Sea Scrolls—Seeing The Evidence Upclose

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Small pieces of old, black papyrus might not sound very interesting. In fact, were you to see some of these nickel-sized jewels lying on the ground, you probably would think of them as pieces of trash, and simply leave them lying there (or else pick them up and put them in the trashcan). Even when they are displayed behind protective glass casing under regular lighting, they do not seem to be anything special. But when placed under infrared light, these treasures come alive. Dating back to about 150 B.C., these tiny pieces of the Dead Sea Scrolls—exhibited in Huntsville, Alabama, at the Von Braun Civic Center during January 2003—certainly are a sight to see. Most of us talk about the extensive manuscript evidence that verifies the Bible’s accurate transmission over the many centuries of its existence, but talking about this evidence is altogether different from being two inches away from it.

For many years, the oldest manuscripts available for the Old Testament dated back only to around A.D. 980. Due to this very late date, some questioned the integrity of the Old Testament documents. If some of these documents were written as early as 1500 B.C., but the earliest copies we could locate dated from 980 A.D., then how could we be sure that the copies we possessed said the same things as those original documents? In 1947, however, the treasure trove of Dead Sea Scrolls was discovered. Amazingly, the scrolls dated from 250 B.C. to A.D. 68. Among the thousands of scrolls and fragments, every single book of the Old Testament is represented, except the book of Esther. On display in Huntsville was a small fragment of Isaiah 26:19-21 that reads as follows: “Your dead shall live again, and their bodies shall rise, shall awake...My people, enter your chambers and shut your doors…to punish the iniquity of the inhabitants of the earth....” The text of this fragment is virtually identical to the text of Isaiah that we have had since A.D. 980. In fact, when the scrolls were compared to the text we possess, all of the texts are virtually identical, with only a few minor alterations (primarily involving the spelling of names). The Dead Sea Scrolls proved to the world that the Old Testament had been correctly transmitted for centuries.
The exhibit also presented several manuscripts attesting to the accuracy of the New Testament documents. Among those is an amazingly well-preserved papyrus sheet on which was written a portion of Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. Dating back to third century A.D., this ancient document, written in the Egyptian language known as Coptic, contains major portions of Colossians 3:21-4:15. This manuscript, combined with the thousands of others of its kind, proves that the New Testament documents were circulating far and wide within a very few years of their original composition.
In fact, the New Testament can boast of more manuscript evidence than any other ancient book in existence. Take, for instance, Homer’s Iliad. To date, those who search for ancient manuscripts have located about 643 pieces of Homer’s work. One of those pieces is on exhibit along with the biblical manuscripts. This tiny strip of papyrus, dating back to the third century A.D., contains a tiny fragment of Homer’s epic poem. And, with 643 manuscript pieces, Homer’s work is among the most well-attested of all ancient documents—until it is compared to the New Testament. As of 2004, scholars have found over 5,700 Greek manuscripts of the New Testament, not to mention all those (like the piece of Colossians) written in other languages such as Coptic, Latin, Syriac, etc. In all, we have discovered at least 25,000 ancient written documents that attest to the New Testament’s accuracy, which surpasses every other ancient book by thousands of manuscripts.
Examining this type of ancient evidence firsthand impresses upon the mind the fact that the Word of God has been divinely preserved for thousands of years. As Jesus Christ put it almost two thousand years ago: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away” (Matthew 24:35).

WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? by Jim McGuiggan





WHO DO YOU THINK YOU ARE?

Abraham’s faith in God was as true and as real as Paul’s faith in God. The faith of believers in ancient times (Hebrews 11) was truly faith in God. The NT never doubts that and neither should we. True believers are true believers no matter in what age they live. But that truth is not what the NT is dealing with!The obedience of faith that we read about in the OT (in people like Noah, Hannah, Josiah, Moses’ mother Jochebed or Melchizedek) was as real as the obedience that stemmed from faith in believers in Jesus Christ. The faith-filled obedient people are the same kind of people no matter in what age they live (again, note that Hebrews 11 uses ancient worthies as models for NT believers.). But that truth is not what the NT is dealing with!
The New Testament deals with a specific section of God’s unfolding drama. Everything prior to that, while absolutely essential to the drama as a whole, is prelude. The fullness of times (Galatians 4:4) and the “ends of the ages” (1 Corinthians 10:11) only arrived when God became incarnate in and as Jesus of Nazareth who is called the Christ. The NT era is the time that all the ancient worthies had to wait for if they hoped for the completed drama (Hebrews 11:39-40; 12:23).
It doesn’t matter that they didn’t know what the end was to be. It doesn’t matter that they didn’t know all that the end would involve. In trusting to God they were looking for whatever it was that God had in store. Prophets spoke things they didn’t really understand and people hoped for things (as we do) that they didn’t understand. (1 Peter 1:9-12) They even spoke of things they knew were not for them. “Eye hasn’t seen, ear hasn’t heard nor has it entered into the heart of man the things God has prepared for them that love him.” (I’m ignoring Paul’s immediate point in 1 Corinthians 2:9.) That is as true today for us as it would have been for ancient believers prior to God’s coming in the flesh.
People enjoyed forgiveness and life with God because God in holy grace granted it to them. But that life with God that they enjoyed occurred within a divine narrative that could never come to fullness in the history of the world as it was then. For the life that God finally intended for the human family when He was creating us wasn’t fulfilled in Genesis 1. That was the beginning of what God had in mind for us but the fullness of what God had in mind for us is revealed in Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16) who is the last Adam (1 Corinthians 15:47). God gave forgiveness and life in a relationship to Abraham but Abraham would die, as would Moses and Samuel and David and the rest. Death would rob them of embodied life (and a human is not fully a human if not embodied).
Death reigned over the human family even over those that believed in God. Then came Jesus of Nazareth, the death killer! In and by Him death was destroyed (2 Timothy 1:9-10) and a new creation begun. In Him, as a single individual, a new creation actually exists and is experienced by Him now as He exists in a new mode of being (a resurrected and immortal human) and Christians inhabit that new world by faith in Him. They are born again and not of the flesh (1 Peter 1:3; John 3:3-7).
By faith Abraham was as right with God in his day as Christians are right with God by faith in Jesus Christ. But the content of the Christian’s faith is richer and more developed than Abraham’s was. Abraham saw glory ahead but he did not know it took the form of the resurrected and glorified Jesus of Nazareth (John 8:56; 2 Timothy 1:9-10; Ephesians 3:1-7).
The shape and truth content of his faith bore witness to God within the parameters and boundaries of his place in God’s developing drama within human history. The shape of a Christian’s faith in God through Jesus Christ is a witness to God’s bringing His creation purposes to completion in Jesus Christ. No one’s faith, prior to Jesus Christ, could bear such a witness precisely because pre-Jesus Christ faith could not proclaim what God has accomplished only in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
Christians live at a particular time in the history of the world and have been called to be and function as the “body” of Jesus Christ in the world. Christians as the Body of the Risen Lord are a new creation, a resurrected people (Ephesians 2:6; Colossians 2:12; 3:1-4)
The forgiveness in pre-Jesus Christ days was real and experienced but forgiveness in Jesus Christ carries with it a significance that couldn’t be carried before He came. Abraham’s faith-motivated obedience (Genesis 22 and James 2:21-23) was genuine and acceptable with God as righteousness (Romans 4:3). In that respect there is no difference between Abraham’s obedience of faith and the Christian’s. But Abraham’s obedience of faith could not function as a witness that God’s creation purposes has been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, because from his perspective they hadn’t been! Israel, was God’s witness (Isaiah 43:10, 12; 44:8) to the truth entrusted to them in their place on the world stage at that time.  Humans can only experience God’s workings in a time continuum but as far as God was concerned it was already a done deal—see Romans 4:17.) Abraham, along with the other ancient worthies in Hebrews 11, had to wait until the Christian era arrived (Hebrews 11:39-40).
The New Covenant people function in their place in human history as God’s witness to Jesus Christ. This form of the people of God began with the coming of Jesus and His faithful doing of the will of God (Galatians 4:4). It has a commission that is in keeping with the direction, timing and plot of the Divine Story. Abraham is not part of that NT People precisely because his place was on stage in a different era. He served well there and died as did Moses and David (Acts 2:29, 34; Hebrews 3:2, 5). They could all be right with God without knowing of the resurrection of Jesus Christ for our justification (Romans 4:25). Abraham knew glory was coming but he did not know that it would be accomplished in Jesus of Nazareth (John 8:56) and he as one of the many righteous men and women had to wait for the fulfillment of God’s promises (Hebrews 11:39-40 with 12:23 (18-24).
Forgiveness and faith and obedience and life with God in pre-Jesus Christ days were real but they did not have the significance that those realities have in and through Jesus Christ. Christian faith proclaims—on the basis of Jesus Christ—that all that the ancient worthies had looked for (though they were not aware of it, certainly not, at any rate, in full awareness)—all that the ancient worthies had looked for has now come. We look now at the Lord Jesus and in Him, the individual, we see God’s creation purposes fulfilled, now!
Jesus is the end of all things. All things have been brought under one head [Ephesians 1:10]; all things have been put in their rightful place under God through Jesus [Colossians 1:15-20]. (This fulfillment that He as a single individual experiences and embodies will be made the personal experience of all that are embraced in His redeeming work. The Lord of All chooses that all that He now has dominion over will continue as it is until He chooses to consummate in a day of His choosing. His reasons are His own!)
Apart from Christians the ancients—whoever they were—could not be made perfect. Forgiveness and faith and life with God all have a different complexion now that Jesus has come. Those glorious realities function with a finality that wasn’t possible for even true faith in pre-Jesus Christ times.
It’s obviously correct to say that there are differences between Paul’s and Abraham’s faith and forgiveness and relationship with God. But the differences have nothing to do with quality or with their reality! But since they lived at different points in the divine drama their faith and life with God contributed to the entire drama in different ways. Only   Christians are “the end time people.” There is no chosen “People of God” (1 Peter 2:9) beyond this era because the People of God in this era are the “Body of Christ” and there is no Lord beyond Him.
Ray McClendon helpfully summarized the matter like this: “For example, the reference to an unfolding drama enables us to ponder Hebrews 11:39-40 in this light: What does it really mean that, though faithful, they didn’t receive what was promised and only together with us are made perfect?
“We could put it this way. At the end of the second act (of, say, a two-act story), all of the actors come out, join hands, and bow. Receiving the accolades of the honor and glory of the completed story they presented. They all occupy (finally and in the end) the same stage; regardless of where their part was in the Story; regardless of whether it came in the first act or the second act and regardless of whether their part was small or large. The actors in the Act 1 didn’t come out after the first act to receive all of the honor and glory because that wasn’t fully revealed or known until the second act! It couldn’t possibly be fully understood or appreciated because the story was still being told and the finale had not yet come. The Abrahams, Melchizedeks, and Rahabs were all in supportive roles; they weren’t the stars nor did they appear in the final and critical stages of the story.
But when the Star appears and the climax plays itself out, all the Act 1 players take their rightful place beside the Act 2 players and together with them receive all the honor and glory (compare Hebrews 11:39-40 and 12:22-24). They’re entitled to share in the glory that comes to the Act 2 players because without them there could be no Act 2 players and no completed drama. In addition, it wasn’t until the whole story was told/known that everyone’s role could be fully understood and appreciated. Nevertheless, everyone’s place in the Story, in his or her own time and circumstances, was crucial and served the will of God who, in every generation, dealt faithfully with all the players that had a place in the drama.”
(Look around at the people with whom you Supper on the Lord’s Day. Who is it that sings along with you, prays with you, reads and listens with you, shares their material blessings along with you and eats and drinks with you in the wondrous Supper that proclaims a wondrous Lord? See them for what they are. Obviously unimpressive it’s true, but then so was their Lord in His earthly ministering period (Isaiah 53:2; Mark 6:1-3) on His way to everlasting glorification as Lord of all. You and your fellow-believers are the visible witness and embodiment of breathtaking realities.)
Believe that! Wonder at that! Rejoice with trembling at that! Purpose by God’s grace to treat one another as that!
(Open our eyes, Holy Father, and so strengthen us by your amazing grace. For the world’s sake as well as our own. This prayer in the Lord Jesus.)

IF THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN IS A FACT......? BY STEVE FINNELL





IF THE DOCTRINE OF ORIGINAL SIN IS A FACT......?  BY STEVE FINNELL


The doctrine of original sin is that all men are guilty of sin because of the fall of Adam and Eve. That all inherit sin and a sin nature because of Adam.

If all men inherit a sin nature, and the guilt of Adam, then they cannot be held responsible for their sins. 

Logically, if you were born a sinner, then it would not your fault if you became a murderer. It would not be your fault if you became a homosexual, seeing you were born with a sin nature. You could not be held responsible for being a liar, a drunkard, a sodomite, a thief, an extortioner, an adulterer, an idolater, nor greedy, nor dishonest. If you were guilty of sin at birth and born with a sin nature, what you are or what you do is not in your control.

Of course the doctrine of original sin is a false doctrine.

Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,(NKJV) 

All men do sin, however, it is by choice. God does not cause men to sin, nor does He take away our ability to resist sin.

1 John 3:4 Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.(NKJV)

Unborn babies are not lawless, they do not commit sin. Infants are not sinners.

Adam and Eve are responsible for their own sin. No one is guilty of sin because Adam sinned.

James 1:13-14 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am tempted By God";  for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14  But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed.(NKJV)

If an inherited sin nature causes men to sin, who gives man that sin nature? It cannot be God He does not tempt men to sin. Does anyone believe Satan has the power to give men a sinful nature at birth?

James 1:15 Then, when desire has conceived, it give birth to sin, and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.(NKJV)

Men are drawn away by their own desire and then sin. Adam and Eve sinned for the same reason all men sin, they gave way to their desire to disobey God. Adam and Eve were not born guilty of sin nor were they born with a sin nature.

Ezekiel 18:19 "Yet you say, 'Why should the son not bear the guilt  of the father?" Because the son has done what is lawful and right, and has kept all My statutes and done them, he shall surely live. (NKJV)

It the son was born with a sin nature and totally depraved, then how could do what is lawful?

Ezekiel 18:20 "The soul who sins shall die, The son shall not bear the guilt of the father, nor the father bear the guilt of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself.(NKJV)

How could it be possible for there to be righteous acts of men if all men are born with a sin nature and totally depraved?

Ezekiel 18:21 "But if a wicked man turns from his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die.(NKJV)

How was it possible for a wicked man who was born with a sin nature and totally depraved to turn from his sins. There was no grace through Jesus Christ during this period of time.

The truth is men are not born with the guilt of Adam's sin, they are not born with a sin nature, they are not born totally depraved. Men sin because of their desire. Men sin because of choice. God does not cause men to sin. Satan tempts men to sin, but men have a choice.


Satan was not created with a sin nature nor was he created totally depraved, yet he sinned. Satan was in fact the Original Sinner! 

I Have Finished The Work by B. Johnson



I Have Finished The Work

Jesus said, “I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do” (John 17:4).
What work was Christ sent to do? Among other things he was sent to bring many sons to glory (Heb 2:10). Was it just to forgive our sins and point us to an eternal abode? Or was there more? There were several things Jesus was sent to do, but one was essential to our spiritual growth as Christians.
Let us remind ourselves of the biblical definition of perfection: “The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master” (Luke 6:40).
How was Jesus made perfect? “For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings” (Heb 2:10).
The fact that the OT did not perfect mankind was what made that law inadequate. “If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God” (Heb 7:11, 19).
Jesus authored our Faith and completed it. “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds” (Heb 12:2-3).
Jesus became the author of our faith by being perfected. “Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered; and being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him” (Heb 5:8-9).
Jesus was the forerunner. “Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus, made an high priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Heb 6:20).
We are perfected (not the same as forgiven) by Christ’s offering. “For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that he had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more. Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin. Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which he hath consecrated for us, through the veil, that is to say, his flesh; and having an high priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water” (Heb 10:14-22).
Out of the heart the mouth speaks. Out of it are the issues of life (Matt 15:18-20; Mark 7:21-23; Matt 12:34-35; Luke 6:45).
What does the New Law do to that heart? It purifies it. Jesus died to initiate that law (Heb 9:14-18); it was implemented by His example.
“Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Heb 13:20-21).
Beth Johnson
The Scripture quotations in this article are from
The King James Version.

Published in The Old Paths Archive
(http://www.oldpaths.com)

Bible Reading for December 16 & 17 by Gary Rose



Bible Reading for December 16 & 17

World  English  Bible


Dec. 16
Joel 1-3

Joe 1:1 The Word of Yahweh that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel.
Joe 1:2 Hear this, you elders, And listen, all you inhabitants of the land. Has this ever happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers?
Joe 1:3 Tell your children about it, and have your children tell their children, and their children, another generation.
Joe 1:4 What the swarming locust has left, the great locust has eaten. What the great locust has left, the grasshopper has eaten. What the grasshopper has left, the caterpillar has eaten.
Joe 1:5 Wake up, you drunkards, and weep! Wail, all you drinkers of wine, because of the sweet wine; for it is cut off from your mouth.
Joe 1:6 For a nation has come up on my land, strong, and without number. His teeth are the teeth of a lion, and he has the fangs of a lioness.
Joe 1:7 He has laid my vine waste, and stripped my fig tree. He has stripped its bark, and thrown it away. Its branches are made white.
Joe 1:8 Mourn like a virgin dressed in sackcloth for the husband of her youth!
Joe 1:9 The meal offering and the drink offering are cut off from Yahweh's house. The priests, Yahweh's ministers, mourn.
Joe 1:10 The field is laid waste. The land mourns, for the grain is destroyed, The new wine has dried up, and the oil languishes.
Joe 1:11 Be confounded, you farmers! Wail, you vineyard keepers; for the wheat and for the barley; for the harvest of the field has perished.
Joe 1:12 The vine has dried up, and the fig tree withered; the pomegranate tree, the palm tree also, and the apple tree, even all of the trees of the field are withered; for joy has withered away from the sons of men.
Joe 1:13 Put on sackcloth and mourn, you priests! Wail, you ministers of the altar. Come, lie all night in sackcloth, you ministers of my God, for the meal offering and the drink offering are withheld from your God's house.
Joe 1:14 Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly. Gather the elders, and all the inhabitants of the land, to the house of Yahweh, your God, and cry to Yahweh.
Joe 1:15 Alas for the day! For the day of Yahweh is at hand, and it will come as destruction from the Almighty.
Joe 1:16 Isn't the food cut off before our eyes; joy and gladness from the house of our God?
Joe 1:17 The seeds rot under their clods. The granaries are laid desolate. The barns are broken down, for the grain has withered.
Joe 1:18 How the animals groan! The herds of livestock are perplexed, because they have no pasture. Yes, the flocks of sheep are made desolate.
Joe 1:19 Yahweh, I cry to you, For the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness, and the flame has burned all the trees of the field.
Joe 1:20 Yes, the animals of the field pant to you, for the water brooks have dried up, And the fire has devoured the pastures of the wilderness.

Joe 2:1 Blow the trumpet in Zion, and sound an alarm in my holy mountain! Let all the inhabitants of the land tremble, for the day of Yahweh comes, for it is close at hand:
Joe 2:2 A day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness. As the dawn spreading on the mountains, a great and strong people; there has never been the like, neither will there be any more after them, even to the years of many generations.
Joe 2:3 A fire devours before them, and behind them, a flame burns. The land is as the garden of Eden before them, and behind them, a desolate wilderness. Yes, and no one has escaped them.
Joe 2:4 The appearance of them is as the appearance of horses, and as horsemen, so do they run.
Joe 2:5 Like the noise of chariots on the tops of the mountains do they leap, like the noise of a flame of fire that devours the stubble, as a strong people set in battle array.
Joe 2:6 At their presence the peoples are in anguish. All faces have grown pale.
Joe 2:7 They run like mighty men. They climb the wall like warriors. They each march in his line, and they don't swerve off course.
Joe 2:8 Neither does one jostle another; they march everyone in his path, and they burst through the defenses, and don't break ranks.
Joe 2:9 They rush on the city. They run on the wall. They climb up into the houses. They enter in at the windows like thieves.
Joe 2:10 The earth quakes before them. The heavens tremble. The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Joe 2:11 Yahweh thunders his voice before his army; for his forces are very great; for he is strong who obeys his command; for the day of Yahweh is great and very awesome, and who can endure it?
Joe 2:12 "Yet even now," says Yahweh, "turn to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning."
Joe 2:13 Tear your heart, and not your garments, and turn to Yahweh, your God; for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abundant in loving kindness, and relents from sending calamity.
Joe 2:14 Who knows? He may turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind him, even a meal offering and a drink offering to Yahweh, your God.
Joe 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion! Sanctify a fast. Call a solemn assembly.
Joe 2:16 Gather the people. Sanctify the assembly. Assemble the elders. Gather the children, and those who suck the breasts. Let the bridegroom go forth from his room, and the bride out of her chamber.
Joe 2:17 Let the priests, the ministers of Yahweh, weep between the porch and the altar, and let them say, "Spare your people, Yahweh, and don't give your heritage to reproach, that the nations should rule over them. Why should they say among the peoples, 'Where is their God?' "
Joe 2:18 Then Yahweh was jealous for his land, And had pity on his people.
Joe 2:19 Yahweh answered his people, "Behold, I will send you grain, new wine, and oil, and you will be satisfied with them; and I will no more make you a reproach among the nations.
Joe 2:20 But I will remove the northern army far away from you, and will drive it into a barren and desolate land, its front into the eastern sea, and its back into the western sea; and its stench will come up, and its bad smell will rise." Surely he has done great things.
Joe 2:21 Land, don't be afraid. Be glad and rejoice, for Yahweh has done great things.
Joe 2:22 Don't be afraid, you animals of the field; for the pastures of the wilderness spring up, for the tree bears its fruit. The fig tree and the vine yield their strength.
Joe 2:23 "Be glad then, you children of Zion, and rejoice in Yahweh, your God; for he gives you the former rain in just measure, and he causes the rain to come down for you, the former rain and the latter rain, as before.
Joe 2:24 The threshing floors will be full of wheat, and the vats will overflow with new wine and oil.
Joe 2:25 I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the great locust, the grasshopper, and the caterpillar, my great army, which I sent among you.
Joe 2:26 You will have plenty to eat, and be satisfied, and will praise the name of Yahweh, your God, who has dealt wondrously with you; and my people will never again be disappointed.
Joe 2:27 You will know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Yahweh, your God, and there is no one else; and my people will never again be disappointed.
Joe 2:28 "It will happen afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions.
Joe 2:29 And also on the servants and on the handmaids in those days, I will pour out my Spirit.
Joe 2:30 I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth: blood, fire, and pillars of smoke.
Joe 2:31 The sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the great and terrible day of Yahweh comes.
Joe 2:32 It will happen that whoever will call on the name of Yahweh shall be saved; for in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who escape, as Yahweh has said, and among the remnant, those whom Yahweh calls.

Joe 3:1 "For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
Joe 3:2 I will gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat; and I will execute judgment on them there for my people, and for my heritage, Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations. They have divided my land,
Joe 3:3 and have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for a prostitute, and sold a girl for wine, that they may drink.
Joe 3:4 "Yes, and what are you to me, Tyre, and Sidon, and all the regions of Philistia? Will you repay me? And if you repay me, I will swiftly and speedily return your repayment on your own head.
Joe 3:5 Because you have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried my finest treasures into your temples,
Joe 3:6 and have sold the children of Judah and the children of Jerusalem to the sons of the Greeks, that you may remove them far from their border.
Joe 3:7 Behold, I will stir them up out of the place where you have sold them, and will return your repayment on your own head;
Joe 3:8 and I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hands of the children of Judah, and they will sell them to the men of Sheba, to a faraway nation, for Yahweh has spoken it."
Joe 3:9 Proclaim this among the nations: "Prepare for war! Stir up the mighty men. Let all the warriors draw near. Let them come up.
Joe 3:10 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruning hooks into spears. Let the weak say, 'I am strong.'
Joe 3:11 Hurry and come, all you surrounding nations, and gather yourselves together." Cause your mighty ones to come down there, Yahweh.
Joe 3:12 "Let the nations arouse themselves, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat; for there will I sit to judge all the surrounding nations.
Joe 3:13 Put in the sickle; for the harvest is ripe. Come, tread, for the winepress is full, the vats overflow, for their wickedness is great."
Joe 3:14 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision! For the day of Yahweh is near, in the valley of decision.
Joe 3:15 The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Joe 3:16 Yahweh will roar from Zion, and thunder from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth will shake; but Yahweh will be a refuge to his people, and a stronghold to the children of Israel.
Joe 3:17 "So you will know that I am Yahweh, your God, dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain. Then Jerusalem will be holy, and no strangers will pass through her any more.
Joe 3:18 It will happen in that day, that the mountains will drop down sweet wine, the hills will flow with milk, all the brooks of Judah will flow with waters, and a fountain will come forth from the house of Yahweh, and will water the valley of Shittim.
Joe 3:19 Egypt will be a desolation, and Edom will be a desolate wilderness, for the violence done to the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
Joe 3:20 But Judah will be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
Joe 3:21 I will cleanse their blood, that I have not cleansed: for Yahweh dwells in Zion."

Dec. 17
Amos 1-4

Amo 1:1 The words of Amos, who was among the herdsmen of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.
Amo 1:2 He said: "Yahweh will roar from Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the pastures of the shepherds will mourn, and the top of Carmel will wither."
Amo 1:3 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Damascus, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have threshed Gilead with threshing instruments of iron;
Amo 1:4 but I will send a fire into the house of Hazael, and it will devour the palaces of Ben Hadad.
Amo 1:5 I will break the bar of Damascus, and cut off the inhabitant from the valley of Aven, and him who holds the scepter from the house of Eden; and the people of Syria shall go into captivity to Kir," says Yahweh.
Amo 1:6 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Gaza, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they carried away captive the whole community, to deliver them up to Edom;
Amo 1:7 but I will send a fire on the wall of Gaza, and it will devour its palaces.
Amo 1:8 I will cut off the inhabitant from Ashdod, and him who holds the scepter from Ashkelon; and I will turn my hand against Ekron; and the remnant of the Philistines will perish," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 1:9 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Tyre, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they delivered up the whole community to Edom, and didn't remember the brotherly covenant;
Amo 1:10 but I will send a fire on the wall of Tyre, and it will devour its palaces."
Amo 1:11 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Edom, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because he pursued his brother with the sword, and cast off all pity, and his anger raged continually, and he kept his wrath forever;
Amo 1:12 but I will send a fire on Teman, and it will devour the palaces of Bozrah."
Amo 1:13 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of the children of Ammon, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have ripped open the pregnant women of Gilead, that they may enlarge their border.
Amo 1:14 But I will kindle a fire in the wall of Rabbah, and it will devour its palaces, with shouting in the day of battle, with a storm in the day of the whirlwind;
Amo 1:15 and their king will go into captivity, he and his princes together," says Yahweh.

Amo 2:1 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Moab, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because he burned the bones of the king of Edom into lime;
Amo 2:2 but I will send a fire on Moab, and it will devour the palaces of Kerioth; and Moab will die with tumult, with shouting, and with the sound of the trumpet;
Amo 2:3 and I will cut off the judge from their midst, and will kill all its princes with him," says Yahweh.
Amo 2:4 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Judah, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have rejected Yahweh's law, and have not kept his statutes, and their lies have led them astray, after which their fathers walked;
Amo 2:5 But I will send a fire on Judah, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem."
Amo 2:6 Thus says Yahweh: "For three transgressions of Israel, yes, for four, I will not turn away its punishment; because they have sold the righteous for silver, and the needy for a pair of shoes;
Amo 2:7 They trample on the dust of the earth on the head of the poor, and deny justice to the oppressed; and a man and his father use the same maiden, to profane my holy name;
Amo 2:8 and they lay themselves down beside every altar on clothes taken in pledge; and in the house of their God they drink the wine of those who have been fined.
Amo 2:9 Yet I destroyed the Amorite before them, whose height was like the height of the cedars, and he was strong as the oaks; yet I destroyed his fruit from above, and his roots from beneath.
Amo 2:10 Also I brought you up out of the land of Egypt, and led you forty years in the wilderness, to possess the land of the Amorite.
Amo 2:11 I raised up some of your sons for prophets, and some of your young men for Nazirites. Isn't this true, you children of Israel?" says Yahweh.
Amo 2:12 "But you gave the Nazirites wine to drink, and commanded the prophets, saying, 'Don't prophesy!'
Amo 2:13 Behold, I will crush you in your place, as a cart crushes that is full of grain.
Amo 2:14 Flight will perish from the swift; and the strong won't strengthen his force; neither shall the mighty deliver himself;
Amo 2:15 neither shall he stand who handles the bow; and he who is swift of foot won't escape; neither shall he who rides the horse deliver himself;
Amo 2:16 and he who is courageous among the mighty will flee away naked on that day," says Yahweh.

Amo 3:1 Hear this word that Yahweh has spoken against you, children of Israel, against the whole family which I brought up out of the land of Egypt, saying:
Amo 3:2 "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth. Therefore I will punish you for all of your sins."
Amo 3:3 Do two walk together, unless they have agreed?
Amo 3:4 Will a lion roar in the thicket, when he has no prey? Does a young lion cry out of his den, if he has caught nothing?
Amo 3:5 Can a bird fall in a trap on the earth, where no snare is set for him? Does a snare spring up from the ground, when there is nothing to catch?
Amo 3:6 Does the trumpet alarm sound in a city, without the people being afraid? Does evil happen to a city, and Yahweh hasn't done it?
Amo 3:7 Surely the Lord Yahweh will do nothing, unless he reveals his secret to his servants the prophets.
Amo 3:8 The lion has roared. Who will not fear? The Lord Yahweh has spoken. Who can but prophesy?
Amo 3:9 Proclaim in the palaces at Ashdod, and in the palaces in the land of Egypt, and say, "Assemble yourselves on the mountains of Samaria, and see what unrest is in her, and what oppression is among them."
Amo 3:10 "Indeed they don't know to do right," says Yahweh, "Who hoard plunder and loot in their palaces."
Amo 3:11 Therefore thus says the Lord Yahweh: "An adversary will overrun the land; and he will pull down your strongholds, and your fortresses will be plundered."
Amo 3:12 Thus says Yahweh: "As the shepherd rescues out of the mouth of the lion two legs, or a piece of an ear, so shall the children of Israel be rescued who sit in Samaria on the corner of a couch, and on the silken cushions of a bed."
Amo 3:13 "Listen, and testify against the house of Jacob," says the Lord Yahweh, the God of Armies.
Amo 3:14 "For in the day that I visit the transgressions of Israel on him, I will also visit the altars of Bethel; and the horns of the altar will be cut off, and fall to the ground.
Amo 3:15 I will strike the winter house with the summer house; and the houses of ivory will perish, and the great houses will have an end," says Yahweh.

Amo 4:1 Listen to this word, you cows of Bashan, who are on the mountain of Samaria, who oppress the poor, who crush the needy, who tell their husbands, "Bring us drinks!"
Amo 4:2 The Lord Yahweh has sworn by his holiness that behold, "The days shall come on you that they will take you away with hooks, and the last of you with fish hooks.
Amo 4:3 You will go out at the breaks in the wall, everyone straight before her; and you will cast yourselves into Harmon," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:4 "Go to Bethel, and sin; to Gilgal, and sin more. Bring your sacrifices every morning, your tithes every three days,
Amo 4:5 offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving of that which is leavened, and proclaim free will offerings and brag about them: for this pleases you, you children of Israel," says the Lord Yahweh.
Amo 4:6 "I also have given you cleanness of teeth in all your cities, and lack of bread in every town; yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:7 "I also have withheld the rain from you, when there were yet three months to the harvest; and I caused it to rain on one city, and caused it not to rain on another city. One place was rained on, and the piece where it didn't rain withered.
Amo 4:8 So two or three cities staggered to one city to drink water, and were not satisfied: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:9 "I struck you with blight and mildew many times in your gardens and your vineyards; and your fig trees and your olive trees have the swarming locust devoured: yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:10 "I sent plagues among you like I did Egypt. I have slain your young men with the sword, and have carried away your horses; and I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camp, yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:11 "I have overthrown some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah, and you were like a burning stick plucked out of the fire; yet you haven't returned to me," says Yahweh.
Amo 4:12 "Therefore thus will I do to you, Israel; because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, Israel.
Amo 4:13 For, behold, he who forms the mountains, and creates the wind, and declares to man what is his thought; who makes the morning darkness, and treads on the high places of the Earth: Yahweh, the God of Armies, is his name."


Dec. 16
2 John

2Jn 1:1 The elder, to the chosen lady and her children, whom I love in truth; and not I only, but also all those who know the truth;
2Jn 1:2 for the truth's sake, which remains in us, and it will be with us forever:
2Jn 1:3 Grace, mercy, and peace will be with us, from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love.
2Jn 1:4 I rejoice greatly that I have found some of your children walking in truth, even as we have been commanded by the Father.
2Jn 1:5 Now I beg you, dear lady, not as though I wrote to you a new commandment, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another.
2Jn 1:6 This is love, that we should walk according to his commandments. This is the commandment, even as you heard from the beginning, that you should walk in it.
2Jn 1:7 For many deceivers have gone out into the world, those who don't confess that Jesus Christ came in the flesh. This is the deceiver and the Antichrist.
2Jn 1:8 Watch yourselves, that we don't lose the things which we have accomplished, but that we receive a full reward.
2Jn 1:9 Whoever transgresses and doesn't remain in the teaching of Christ, doesn't have God. He who remains in the teaching, the same has both the Father and the Son.
2Jn 1:10 If anyone comes to you, and doesn't bring this teaching, don't receive him into your house, and don't welcome him,
2Jn 1:11 for he who welcomes him participates in his evil works.
2Jn 1:12 Having many things to write to you, I don't want to do so with paper and ink, but I hope to come to you, and to speak face to face, that our joy may be made full.
2Jn 1:13 The children of your chosen sister greet you. Amen.

Dec. 17
3 John

3Jn 1:1 The elder to Gaius the beloved, whom I love in truth.
3Jn 1:2 Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be healthy, even as your soul prospers.
3Jn 1:3 For I rejoiced greatly, when brothers came and testified about your truth, even as you walk in truth.
3Jn 1:4 I have no greater joy than this, to hear about my children walking in truth.
3Jn 1:5 Beloved, you do a faithful work in whatever you accomplish for those who are brothers and strangers.
3Jn 1:6 They have testified about your love before the assembly. You will do well to send them forward on their journey in a manner worthy of God,
3Jn 1:7 because for the sake of the Name they went out, taking nothing from the Gentiles.
3Jn 1:8 We therefore ought to receive such, that we may be fellow workers for the truth.
3Jn 1:9 I wrote to the assembly, but Diotrephes, who loves to be first among them, doesn't accept what we say.
3Jn 1:10 Therefore, if I come, I will call attention to his deeds which he does, unjustly accusing us with wicked words. Not content with this, neither does he himself receive the brothers, and those who would, he forbids and throws out of the assembly.
3Jn 1:11 Beloved, don't imitate that which is evil, but that which is good. He who does good is of God. He who does evil hasn't seen God.
3Jn 1:12 Demetrius has the testimony of all, and of the truth itself; yes, we also testify, and you know that our testimony is true.
3Jn 1:13 I had many things to write to you, but I am unwilling to write to you with ink and pen;
3Jn 1:14 but I hope to see you soon, and we will speak face to face. Peace be to you. The friends greet you. Greet the friends by name.