Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Yeah, what she said


As you may know, we recently visited the Grand Canyon. My camera cannot capture the beauty and magnitude of the canyon, and I confess words fail me trying to describe it. Then I came across this the other day, which I found in Seeing the West: Suggestions for the Westbound Traveller by K.E.M. (Kate Ethel Mary) Dumbell (1914). All I can say is, "Yeah what she said.”

THE GRAND CANYON

The Grand Canyon of the Colorado is the world’s most famous gorge, in which Mr. Lummis says: “All the world’s famous gorges could be lost forever.”

Charles Dudley Warner said of this spot: “Human experience has no prototype of this region, and the imagination has never conceived of its forms and colours.... The scene is one to strike dumb with awe, or to unstring the nerves.... All that we could comprehend was a vast confusion of amphitheatres and strange architectural forms resplendent with colour.... Streaks of solid hues 1,000 feet in width, yellows mingled with white and gray, orange, dull red, brown, blue, carmine, and green all blending in the sunlight into one transcendent effusion of splendour.”

Here is truly one of the most marvellous nature wonders of the world, and comparatively few of us have seen it. It is stupendous! It is incomprehensible!

The canyon is nearly 300 miles long and in places 6,600 feet deep; the width at the top is from 8 to 20 miles. The river lying below is in places 300 feet wide, and is 2,400 feet above sea level; yet looking down from the rim it seems the smallest stream, the merest thread.

“A canyon, truly, but not after the accepted type. An intricate system of canyons, rather.... Only by descending into the canyon may one arrive at anything like comprehension of its proportions, and the descent cannot be too urgently recommended to every visitor who is sufficiently robust to bear a reasonable amount of fatigue.”

There are several paths down the southern wall of the canyon, and the trip is safely made on horseback. A word of advice here in regard to clothing may be of use. It is absolutely necessary to have good, warm clothing with one, for the night, which is spent on the floor; but for the descent a light shade hat is advisable; the heat of the afternoon sun can be very oppressive.

Mr. William Winter said of the Grand Canyon: “It is a pageant of ghastly desolation and yet of frightful vitality, such as neither Dante nor Milton in their most sublime conceptions ever even approached.... Your heart is moved with feeling that is far too deep for words. Hour after hour you would sit, entranced, at the edge of this mighty subterranean spectacle, lost in the wonder and glory of it, forgetful of self, and conscious only of the Divine Spirit.”

“All this, which is literally true, is a mere trifle of what might be said in trying to fix a standard of comparison for the Grand Canyon. But I fancy there is no standard adjustable to the human mind. You may compare all you will—eloquently and from wide experience—and at last all similes fail. The Grand Canyon is just the Grand Canyon, and that is all you can say. I never have seen any one who was prepared for it. I never have seen any one who could grasp it in a week’s hard exploration; nor any one, except some rare Philistine, who could even think he had grasped it. I have seen people rave over it; better people struck dumb with it; even strong men who wept over it; but I have never yet seen the man or woman who expected it.” (Charles F. Lummis)

Last, but by no means least, let me quote a few words from an article published in the Century Magazine by Mr. John Muir:

“It seems a gigantic statement for even Nature to make, all in one stone word. Wildness so Godful, cosmic, primeval, bestows a new sense of earth’s beauty and size.... But the colours, the living, rejoicing colours, chanting, morning and evening, in chorus to heaven. Whose brush or pencil, however lovingly inspired, can give us these? In the supreme flaming glory of sunset the whole canyon is transfigured, as if all the life and light of centuries of sunshine stored up in the rocks was now being poured forth as from one glorious fountain, flooding both earth and sky.”

It is a happy thing to be able to quote such men as the above, for I am among the number of those who were struck dumb by the sight of this place. I can find no words which would give any idea of the impression made upon me by the canyon, I can only advise those planning a western trip to see it, without fail, either going or returning; the time of the year does not matter.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me

Life and Ministry of the Christ in Isaiah
Isaiah 61

1 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind;  
2 to declare the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompence; to comfort all that mourn;  
3 that there should be given to them that mourn in Sion glory instead of ashes, the oil of joy to the mourners, the garment of glory for the spirit of heaviness: and they shall be called generations of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for glory. *

Messiah and Christ both mean anointed. Priests, prophets, and kings were all anointed with oil, as a sign of their being set apart for their particular work. The Coming One will also be anointed, but not with oil, he will be anointed with the Holy Spirit. He is the Christ, the one anointed by God.

Now, the New Testament declares Jesus of Nazareth is the Christ, that he is the one anointed with the Holy Spirit. Was he really anointed with the Spirit?

Luke 3:2 the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness.  3 And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins ... 21 Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, 22 And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Yes! All four gospels record this. After his baptism, Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness. Then we read:

Luke 4:14 And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee: and there went out a fame of him through all the region round about.
15 And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified of all.
16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,  
19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.  
20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.

Isaiah said Christ would be anointed with the Holy Spirit. All four gospels tell us that when Jesus was baptized by John the Baptizer the Holy Spirit descended upon him. And now Jesus himself says the prophecy of Isaiah 61 is fulfilled in him. He is saying as clearly as he can, he is the Christ.

Now, let’s briefly consider what he is anointed to do:
preach the gospel to the poor
heal the brokenhearted
to preach deliverance to the captives
recovering of sight to the blind
set at liberty them that are bruised
preach the acceptable year of the Lord

And when we read the gospels, this is what we see him doing. Yes, Jesus is the Christ! But it just keeps getting better – he not only did this when he was on the earth, he continues to do this for us today!

This is good news indeed!


How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.



* LXX or Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. I’m using the LXX for this because Luke 4:18-19 is a word for word quotation from the LXX. You may have noticed slight differences in the quotes above and wondered, "How can he say they agree word for word?" They are the same in Greek, the differences in English are simply a matter of translation and different translators.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Today is Pentecost


And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Acts 2:1-4

Today is Pentecost Sunday. A celebration of this wonderful, amazing, historic event. What is the meaning of Pentecost? The significance? Amazingly, this is not explained in the New Testament. I’m serious. Pentecost only occurs two other times in the entire New Testament, and those two simply refer to the Jewish feast itself.

So what does this all mean? Obviously it is the fulfillment of the promised outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but what is the significance of this day itself? It seems to me there are three basic views:

1) This is the birthday of the Church
2) This is the model of baptism in the Spirit as a second blessing
3) This is proof that speaking in tongues is evidence of this baptism

Concerning #1 The Bible nowhere states this. The early Fathers believed the church existed before all other things. Others have set forth that the church was formed in the ministry of Jesus. Whichever of these we decide, the New Testament does not say this is the birthday of the Church.

Concerning #2 While I believe this does indeed set forth a normative New Testament experience, that is, each believer may seek, expect, and receive such a baptism (minus the wind and fire!), this is not the significance of Pentecost.

Concerning #3 This is actually significant!! I believe tongues is a continuing gift, still available today, although not necessarily the evidence of baptism with the Spirit, but speaking in tongues here is really significant!

In Genesis 11:7-9 we read: Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

This was a judgment from God to scatter them abroad upon the face of the earth. Pentecost marks the reversal of this judgment, as people all over the face of the earth are now invited to join the new people of God. That’s what speaking in tongues on Pentecost signified - through Christ God is gathering out of all nations a people. And like the baptism in the Spirit, the blessing continues throughout the age (with many other benefits!).

But is that it? I think we can learn the full significance of Pentecost from the Old Testament Feast as it is set forth in Leviticus 23:15-22

15  And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
16  Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
This is why it’s called Pentecost - pentecost means 50.

17  Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; [they are] the firstfruits unto the LORD.
By this time the harvest has begun, and they were to bake two loaves* of bread from this first-fruits of the harvest and present them to the Lord. And this is the significance!! First, that these loaves are the first-fruits of a greater harvest to come. Second, that there are two loaves here presented before the Lord.

You may be thinking, What? Yes, and it’s glorious.

First-fruits – The sign of a fuller harvest to come; in the case of the church, a world-wide harvest. This is the significance of Pentecost, the beginning of a season of worldwide harvest: thou hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation.

Two loaves – One loaf symbolizing Israel, the other loaf symbolizing the Gentiles. Both are presented to the Lord; at the same time; the two become one body in Christ.

The chapter goes on to describe sacrifices to be offered at Pentecost: a burnt offering, a meal offering, drink offerings, a sin offering, and peace offerings. Of course, all these offerings are types of Christ and his sufferings for us; but the main purpose of Pentecost is the wave offering of these two loaves as first-fruits of the harvest to come. We are living in the Age of Pentecost. Yes, The Comforter Has Come, and yes, His gifts are available, but this is the summer of harvest. The next feast is not until the seventh month and the feast of trumpets (v 24). I believe this is God’s calendar: Passover has come – Christ has come and suffered for us that we might go free; Pentecost has come – the Spirit has come and with his power and gifts we are reaching all nations; the next feast, the Feast of Trumpets, is the second coming of Christ.

I believe this is the significance of Pentecost. By all means, press in until you also have been baptized with the Spirit and walk in the fruit and gifts of the Spirit, but remember, this is bigger than just me being blessed: For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.

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More on the Feast of Pentecost

* “The size of each loaf was fixed by law. It must contain the tenth of an ephah, about three quarts and a half, of the finest wheat flour of the new harvest (Le 23:17). Later Jewish writers are very minute in their description of the preparation of these two loaves (Josephus, Ant, III, x, 6). According to the Mishna (Menachoth, xi.4), the length of the loaf was 7 handbreadths, its width 4, its depth 7 fingers.” ISBE


Shavuot - the Feast of Weeks or Pentecost 
The Old Testament does not give it the historical significance which later Jewish writers have ascribed to it. The Israelites were admonished to remember their bondage on that day and to re-consecrate themselves to the Lord (De 16:12), but it does not yet commemorate the giving of the Law at Sinai or the birth of the national existence. Philo, Josephus, and the earlier Talmud are all ignorant of this new meaning which was given to the day in later Jewish history. It originated with the great Jewish rabbi Maimonides and has been copied by Christian writers. And thus a view of the Jewish Pentecost has been originated, which is wholly foreign to the scope of the ancient institution. ISBE
------
This day is said to mark the dividing line between the ministry of the Lord and the ministry of the Spirit. The later Dutch theologians have advanced the idea that the origin of the church, as an institution, is to be found in the selection of the Twelve and that these men were "qualified for their calling by the power of the Holy Spirit."

Whatever we may think of this matter, the fact remains that Pentecost completely changed the apostles, and that the enduement with the Holy Spirit enabled them to become witnesses of the resurrection of Christ as the fundamental fact in historic Christianity, and to extend the church according to Christ's commandment. Jerome has an especially elegant passage in which Pentecost is compared with the beginning of the Jewish national life on Mt. Sinai (Ad Tabiol, section 7): "There is Sinai, here Sion; there the trembling mountain, here the trembling house; there the flaming mountain, here the flaming tongues; there the noisy thunderings, here the sounds of many tongues; there the clangor of the ramshorn, here the notes of the gospel-trumpet." This vivid passage shows the close analogy between the Jewish and Christian Pentecost.   ISBE

Thursday, May 17, 2018

What I did last week: A Photo Essay

Last week we went to Santa Fe to celebrate Dan’s graduation from Nursing School. (We’ll use any excuse to go see Erica!) Here is our week in photos. Click on each photo for the full size.

SUNDAY  
We arrived in Albuquerque and drove up to Santa Fe. Up? Yes, Santa Fe sits at 7,199 feet above sea level, making it the highest state capital in the United States. We all took our supper at Maria's New Mexican Kitchen.

MONDAY
I woke up early (I woke up early all week!) and took a two mile walk through the arroyo behind the hotel. It was enjoyable, but I would regret it later.

Looking back toward the hotel.
Later, Mary spent the day with Erica and I went with the Beckwiths to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. We started the hike at 5,731’ and ended at 6,299’
view from the top of Tent Rocks

TUESDAY
The Beckwiths headed to Bandelier National Monument while Mary and I went to Ghost Ranch. This was the drive up to Ghost Ranch and me just hanging out at the cabin.


WEDNESDAY
I woke up and went the other way in the arroyo behind the hotel.
Actually, I left the arroyo and discovered this trail

In the afternoon we went to Dan’s Pinning ceremony at Santa Fe Community College.


THURSDAY
Mary and I looked out the window of the hotel, saw some mountains, and decided to go explore them. We wound up at Arroyo Hondo Open Space. Here you start at 7,045' and end up at 7,284'
looking down on Santa Fe

Then we drove down to Albuquerque for Dan’s graduation. This was held in The Pit at the University of New Mexico. Here is Dan getting his diploma and his whole family. It was nice to get to meet the family! They came from England and Australia for this event.



FRIDAY
The Beckwiths headed to Colorado and we headed to Arizona to go to the Grand Canyon. Here I am in Winslow, Arizona.


We visited the Grand Canyon National Park Saturday and Sunday. Photos cannot do justice to this magnificent park. Actually, two days is not nearly enough to see the park either.


We were able to briefly hike the South Kaibab Trail down into the Canyon. The trail begins at the South Rim which is at 7,200’. Ooh Aah Point is 6,600’

We discovered that Mary is sensitive to changes in elevation. I, on the other hand, am insensitive to these changes. As Mary said, Like most other areas of life!

Sunday we drove down to Phoenix for the red-eye back to Charlotte. This was a great trip!

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

The most remarkable chapter in Isaiah

Life and Ministry of the Christ in Isaiah
Isaiah 53

This is the most remarkable chapter in Isaiah, yea in the Old Testament, and I confess, I approach it with trembling. Not because I’m not sure who it is about, but because it is so rich I don’t want to do it an injustice. My plan is to go through the chapter, offering brief comments.

This is the last chapter which mentions my servant. Sometimes in the servant section the servant is Israel. Who is it here? This very question is asked in the New Testament:

Acts 8:34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? [see Isaiah 53 in the New Testament below]
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

From the very beginning the church has understood this to refer to Christ and Philip is very specific, he began here and preached Jesus as the Christ. So let’s begin . . .

1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Why would anyone have trouble believing this refers to Christ? Because of his humiliation. This is Christ? He has no beauty, he is not attractive and appealing in his appearance, and worse yet, he is He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
He will suffer greatly, and be wounded, bruised, and chastised. Jesus presented himself as Christ yet was rejected and crucified and they did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Why did Christ suffer so? For us. This is the atonement: he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows; he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him. As a result of his suffering, with his stripes we are healed. The cross was for our salvation.

6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
Here is our problem (we have turned every one to his own way) and God’s solution (the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all).

7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
Jesus was oppressed, and afflicted, and cut off from the land of the living (that is, killed and buried). Why would God allow his Christ, his righteous servant, to be treated so badly? for the transgression of my people was he stricken. Jesus Christ suffered for us.

10 Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
Yet it pleased the Lord to bruise him  What? Why? He shall make his soul an offering for sin. Again, this is the atonement. Jesus suffered for us, for our sins, that we might be forgiven through his suffering and death. But something changes in the middle of this verse. For the first ten verses we have been hearing about the humiliation and suffering of Christ, his rejection and death, now we read of his resurrection, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the Lord shall prosper in his hand. He was despised and rejected and we did esteem him not; he was oppressed and afflicted and cut off from the land of the living, then God raised his Servant from the dead and exalted his Christ.

11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
Through his suffering and exaltation Christ will offer salvation – my righteous servant shall justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. This is the gospel. And the beauty of it is stated this way, He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied. God was satisfied with the travail of his soul for our sins. There is nothing more we can do or offer or that is required of us. When we hear these words, shall be satisfied, we can rest in Jesus. Forgiveness and life and salvation was secured for us through the suffering of Christ and is received by us when we believe in Jesus Christ. He is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.

12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great  Because he was willing to suffer for our sins, he will be raised and exalted.

He bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors  Again, this is the atonement. Christ suffered for us that we might be forgiven and freed from condemnation and death:
He suffered for our sins v 12
for the transgression of my people was he stricken v 8
the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all v 6
he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him v 4-5

The Suffering Servant of the Lord is Christ. The gospel is the declaration that Christ has come and Jesus is this Christ. And the salvation he offers is for everyone who will believe in him, for all who will believe that he is the Christ who was crucified for our sins and raised from the dead.

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Isaiah 53 in the New Testament

Matthew 8:16 When the even was come, they brought unto him many that were possessed with devils: and he cast out the spirits with his word, and healed all that were sick: 
17 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses.

John 12:37 But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him: 
38 That the saying of Esaias the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? and to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed?

Luke 22:37 For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.

Acts 8:30 And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understandest thou what thou readest? 
31 And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. 
32 The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth:  
33 In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth.  
34 And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? 
35 Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.

Romans 10:16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?

1 Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

He shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high

Life and Ministry of the Christ in Isaiah
Isaiah 52

13  Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.
14  As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:
15  So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.

This is a wonderful and amazing passage. It is actually the beginning of the next chapter‡. I will only present these three verses today, offering the insights of John Gill* and Adam Clarke† because their words are so much better than mine.

This is v 13 in the Jewish Targum+, Behold, my servant the Messiah shall prosper. He shall be exalted and extolled, and He shall be very strong. Amen! This is about Christ.

And now John Gill on these verses:
52:13
Behold, my servant shall deal prudently.... Here properly a new chapter should begin, these three last verses treating of the same person and subject as the following chapter; even of Christ, his person, offices, humiliation, and exaltation, and the effects and fruits thereof; for of him undoubtedly the whole is to be understood. Christ, as man and Mediator, is the servant of God: the principal part of his service lay in working out the salvation of his people.

he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high - The Jews say of the Messiah, in reference to these words, that he is exalted above Abraham, extolled above Moses, and made higher than the ministering angels.

52:14
As many were astonished at thee.... Not so much at the miracles he wrought, the doctrines he taught, and the work he did; or at his greatness and glory, though very wonderful; rather at his humiliation, the mean appearance he made, the low estate he was brought into; the sufferings and death which he underwent. Indeed, it is astonishing that one so great as he was should become so low as he did; and also that one that was brought so low should be raised so high.

his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men - With the griefs and sorrows he bore, and troubles he met with; with watchings and fastings, with laborious preaching, and constant travelling about to do good; with sweat and blood, with buffetings and scourgings, never was any man's face more marred, or his form more altered, than his was.

52:15
So shall he sprinkle many nations - This is not to be understood of water baptism, for though this has been administered in many nations, yet not by Christ, nor done by sprinkling; rather of the grace of the Spirit, which is expressed by water, and its application by sprinkling, and is of a cleansing and sanctifying nature, and which Gentiles are made partakers of; but better of the blood of Christ, called the blood of sprinkling, by which the conscience is purged from dead works, and the heart from an evil conscience, and by which multitudes of many nations are justified and sanctified.

The kings shall shut their mouths at him - astonished at the glories and excellencies of his person and office, as outshining theirs; at his wonderful works of grace and salvation. It seems to denote a reverent attention to them, and a subjection to Christ and his ordinances; and must be understood of their subjects as well as of themselves.

For that which had not been told them shall they see, and that which they had not heard shall they consider - or understand. The Gentiles had not the oracles of God committed to them; could not be told the things of the Gospel by their oracles, or by their philosophers; nor could they be come at by the light of nature, or by reason; such as the doctrines of a trinity of Persons in the Godhead; of the deity, sonship, and incarnation of Christ; of salvation by him; of justification by his righteousness, pardon by his blood, and atonement by his sacrifice; of the resurrection of the dead, and eternal life: but now Christ and his Gospel are seen and understood by spiritual men; who, besides having a revelation given them, and the Gospel preached unto them, have their eyes opened; so that they have a sight of Christ, of the glory, beauty, and fulness of his person by faith, through the Word, so as to approve of him, appropriate him, and become like unto him.

And now Adam Clarke:
52:13
My servant shall deal prudently - shall prosper, or act prosperously. The subject of Isaiah's prophecy, from the fortieth chapter on has been, in general, the deliverance of the people of God. This includes in it three distinct parts; which, however, have a close connection with one another; that is,

1. The deliverance of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon;

2. The deliverance of the Gentiles from their miserable state of ignorance and idolatry;

3. The deliverance of mankind from the captivity of sin and death.

Cyrus is expressly named as the immediate agent of God in effecting the first deliverance. A greater person is spoken of as the Agent who is to effect the two latter deliverances, called the servant of God, in whom his soul delighteth; Israel, in whom God will be glorified. Isaiah has not treated the three subjects as quite distinct and separate in a methodical and orderly manner, like a philosopher or a logician. He has handled them as a prophet and a poet; he has allegorized the former, and under the image of it has shadowed out the two latter: he has thrown them all together, has mixed one with another, has passed from this to that with rapid transitions, and has painted the whole with the strongest and boldest imagery. He introduces the Messiah as appearing at first in the lowest state of humiliation and then the glory which should follow it.

52:15
So shall he sprinkle many nations - Does not sprinkling the nations refer to the conversion and baptism of the Gentiles? Many nations shall become proselytes to his religion.

Kings shall shut their mouths at him - His Gospel shall so prevail that all opposition shall be finally overcome; and kings and potentates shall be overwhelmed with confusion, and become speechless before the doctrines of his truth. When they hear these declared they shall attentively consider them, and their conviction of their truth shall be the consequence.
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Amen! These three verses are powerful in themselves, yet they serve almost as an introduction to the most amazing chapter in Isaiah. But they tell us, when Christ comes he will be brought very low through his sufferings, then he will be exalted and extolled, and be very high. And the salvation he purchased for us through his sufferings will spread to many nations. All this was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth when he was crucified, died and was buried, raised from the dead and exalted to be Lord of all. And it was all spoken and written some 800 years before Jesus was born! He is the Christ, the Son of God, the Savior and Lord, and he gives his salvation to all who come to him!


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‡ Robert Estienne created verse numbering in his 1551 edition of the Greek New Testament which was also used in his 1553 publication of the Bible in French. Estienne's system of division was widely adopted, and it is this system which is found in almost all modern Bibles. He also produced a 1555 Vulgate that is the first Bible to include the verse numbers integrated into the text. Before this work, they were printed in the margins. The first Bible in English to use both chapters and verses was the Geneva Bible published in 1560.

+ Targum – paraphrase/explanation of the Jewish scriptures in the language of the listeners. "The Targum to the Prophets was composed by Jonathan ben Uzziel ‘from the mouths of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi,’ thus implying that it was based on traditions derived from the last prophets." (Jewish Encyclopedia). Jonathan Ben Uziel lived thirty years before the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ and was a disciple of Hillel.

* John Gill - English Baptist pastor, biblical scholar, and theologian; 1697-1771

† Adam Clarke – English Methodist theologian and biblical scholar; 1760-1832

Friday, May 4, 2018

Kenneth Copeland and my right shoulder

I began having problems with my left shoulder in the summer of 2016. I went to the doctor that fall and after physical therapy didn't work was scheduled for surgery in April 2017. While I was waiting for surgery, my pastor anointed me with oil and prayed for me. Surgery was denied by my insurance company and I took a six day regimen of oral steroids. Today my shoulder is completely free of pain, with full range of movement! I don't believe it was the physical therapy or the steroids, I believe the Lord healed my shoulder. You can read about my experience here.

That is not the end of the story. Shortly after my left shoulder was healed, my right shoulder began to bother me! Same kind of pain and same restriction of movement. It got so bad that when I was playing basketball with my grandson I couldn't even make a right-handed shot, and I'm right handed. I could only throw a baseball underhand. I didn't want to go through all this again, going to the doctor and wrestling with the insurance company, and I didn't want surgery and a year of recovery so I began to pray and ask the Lord to heal my shoulder. I prayed often, specifically, and in faith. I confess, I wasn't seeing any results, but I continued to pray and believe for healing. One Sunday I was visiting a church and after communion they offered to pray and anoint any who wanted it. I was anointed with oil and prayed for, but I still saw no improvement.

I went to bed one night and turned on the TV, so I could watch a little before falling asleep. As I was scrolling through the channel guide I noticed that on the Believers Voice of Victory Channel, which is Kenneth Copeland's Ministry channel, Kenneth Copeland himself was actually speaking. And I thought to myself, “I haven't heard Brother Copeland in a long time. I think I'll tune in.” I want to say right here, that I used to listen to Kenneth Copeland all the time on the way to school. That’s right, Brother Copeland (as he was known to those who listened to him) and Kenneth Hagin, too, and a host of others. I stopped listening to them a while ago for various reasons, but as I said, that night I decided to watch for a few minutes.

I did and there was nothing special happening, just him teaching, actually the end of his teaching time, and he closed with prayer. But as he was praying he began to speak out that the Lord was doing this and doing that and was working in the bodies of people. And all I can say is there was a change in my bedroom, the Holy Spirit came to me and it was as if he was saying, “I'm talking to you. This is for you.” So I began raising my hands and thanking the Lord; praising him out loud and accepting and receiving this work in my shoulder. And then the service was over. I thanked the Lord, turned off the TV, and went to sleep.

All I can say is, since that night the pain in my shoulder began to decrease and my range of movement increase! I began to experiment, stretching and reaching, I guess my own form of physical therapy. I’m so excited, I can once again do things I had not been able to do for months!! I can reach over my head and behind me again, I can shoot the basketball with my right hand again, I can throw a baseball overhand again. I will admit, it’s not 100% yet, but I can tell you it continues to get better and better. I praise the Lord for his touching my shoulder!