of Christ's Kingdom
Table of Contents
Introducing the subject of Heroes of Faith
Caleb--The Endurance of Faith
A warrior and an inspiration for those who followed
Rahab--Faith Hanging on a Thread
A Canaanite proselyte saving the lives of Hebrew spies
Rose of Moab, Rose of Sharon
Ruth, a model daughter-in-law for Naomi
Barak--Faith on the Battlefield
Inspired by Deborah, he delivers Israel
The Question Box
Why Paul lists Barak instead of Deborah as an example of faith
These Also Had Faith
The unnamed heroes of Hebrews 11
Samson--Faith Goes It Alone
A defense of a misunderstood warrior
When Did Samson Live?
Looking at the chronology of Israel's latter judges
Nehemiah--Faith Faces a
A verse by verse study in Nehemiah 6
Be Strong and of a Good Courage
Short profiles of Old Testament men of faith
Righteous Lot--When Faith
The perils of not holding faith firm to the end
News and Views
News items from around the world of interest to
Reiview Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st Century
"Now faith is the
substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." -- Hebrews 11:1
Faith is a rare commodity.
It is even more rare in the age we live in, an age of skepticism. In a time when
scientific proof is desired for all beliefs, faith retains belief in the unprovable. Jesus
stated in Luke 18:8: when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?
The Substance of Hope
To wish is
to have a desire for something better with no real basis for that expectation. To hope is
to have a basis for expecting the desire to come to pass. Many people wish for the
conditions of the kingdom; the Christian hopes for it. Faith gives substance to the hope,
a reason for believing that it is true.
Christian hope is both for things unseen because they are invisible-such as things of the
spirit nature-and for things that will be seen, but are unseen as of yetsuch as the
kingdom of God on earth. Faith perceives logical evidences for the reality of these hopes.
Have Faith in God
One of the
most unusual miracles Jesus performed was the cursing of the barren fig tree (Mark
11:13-21). Seemingly the miracle benefitted no one. Its sole purpose appears to have been
to demonstrate the casting off of favor from natural Israel, which was frequently pictured
by a fig tree (see Jer. 24:110). Upon seeing the results that same day Peter expressed his
amazement. Jesus' response was, have faith in God (Mark
in the casting off of Israel at the time of Jesus' first advent required faith in God, so
much the more will belief in the promises of the restitution of Israel and all mankind at the second advent require faith in
Heroes of Faith
11, Paul continues his dissertation on faith by providing a list of Old Testament
characters who demonstrated this amazing quality of faith.
quality of faith set these heroes apart from their contemporaries: By it [faith] the
elders obtained a good report (Heb. 11:2).
faith many notable men of the past did great exploits. Alexander the Great conquered
empires. Hammurabi codified laws. Aristotle laid the basics for logic. Yet these did not obtain a good report, an acceptable report in the
eyes of God.
distinguishing marks of a true faith are well captured in the following quote from the pen
of M. F. Russell: "Faith in God is that humble confidence which espouses his
unpopular cause, which perseveres in pursuing it in the face of all opposition and without
human encouragement, and which patiently endures whatever of reproach, discouragement,
privation, and persecution it may bring, assured of ultimate triumph according to his
promise, and finding in his blessed truth and in his approval all the present reward and
In This Issue
issue of THE HERALD we are featuring a number of these outstanding characters of the past
whose faith is an example to encourage us to develop more of the same quality.
the most famous names in the Bible-Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses -- are featured in Hebrews
11. But Paul mentions that time would fail to tell of so many others who were no less
heroes of faith. In the following articles some of these lesser known ones will be
Barak demonstrates Faith on the Battleground. In Rahab we see Faith Hanging on a Thread. Samson illustrates Faith Going It Alone. Caleb illuminates The Endurance of Faith and the sweet faith of Ruth is discussed in The Rose of Moab, The Rose of Sharon. Our verse by
verse Bible study in Nehemiah 6 looks at A Faith
that Faced a Conspiracy.
feature Echoes from the Past is on the same
subject, as we reprint an article from the 1961 HERALD by our late Bro. John Ensol of
England, Be Strong and of a Good Courage, with
short vignettes of still other 'heroes of faith.
contrast, the article on Righteous Lot-When Faith
Weakens, traces the sad story of the decline of faith and the steps that led to it as
an object lesson for our own lives.
you will enjoy your journey with us through this small gallery of Heroes of Faith.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so
great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so
easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1
CalebThe Endurance of Faith
"Now therefore give me this
mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakim
were there, and that the cities were great and fenced; if so be the LORD will be with me,
then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said."Joshua 14:12
The Old Testament covers 1500 years
of Israels history. Then, as now, much of that history included valiant battles by
The WarriorThe Spy
An outstanding example of
Jehovahs warriors was Caleb. He earned his greatest fame as a spy who had confidence
in the power of his God.
Caleb was 38 years old at the time
of Israels exodus from Egypt. He belonged to the tribe of Judah. His cousin was
Bezaleel, master craftsman of the Sanctuary of God, the Tabernacle. As we compare and
contrast the differing skills of these two consecrated men, we are reminded of the varied
talents God has always supplied and used among his people of every dispensation.
Ten Were Frightened
Two years after the exodus, Israel
was camped along the southern border of the Promised Land. They were assured that they
only had to walk over the boundary-line and take possession of the land. There would be no
resistance by the existing inhabitants.
The people of Israel requested that
Moses delegate a few representatives to check the conditions they would be facing.
God told Moses to appoint a team of
twelve men to explore the landits size, characteristics, growing crops, cities and
towns, and people.
When a spy from each tribe was sent
to appraise the situation in Canaan, ten returned to Moses with a terrified report: The
land was verdant, but its inhabitants were forbiddingunduly strong and impossible to
defeat. The walled cities seemed impregnable.
Two Trusted God
Caleb counted the pessimistic spies.
Stalwart in his faith in divine power, "Caleb stilled the people and said, `Let us go
up at once, and possess it; for we are well able to overcome it." (Num. 13:30)
Only Caleb and Joshua gave an evaluation prompted by faith in the Almighty.
Caleb never doubted the verity of
the promises of Yahweh. He believed with all his heart and soul that Israel would inherit
the land which God had promised them. "So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my
mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and
it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it." (Isa. 55:11)
"I am the LORD, I change
not" (Lam. 3:23,22).
Fear Not, Neither Be Discouraged
An optimist sees an opportunity in
every calamity. A pessimist finds a calamity in every opportunity.
Caution is prudent if followed by
action. But fear doubts the supremacy of the divine arrangement; it questions the wisdom
and love of the LORD. Fear paralyzes.
Israel had heard much about the land
of milk and honey. They were now at the borders of this Promised Land. Their yearning for
Egypt was past. All that remained was the conquest. The spies gazed upon the vineyards and
olives groves. They saw the richness of the grain in the fields. They pictured their own
farms dotting the valleys. They were excited about each wonder before them. Then they saw
the Canaanites! Some of them were eight feet tall. They looked like the dreaded Nephilim
of antediluvian days. In sheer panic, ten spies returned to the camp of Israel with their
faith shattered, bearing a message of utter and hopeless despair. Only Caleb and Joshua
remembered to "Fear not, neither be discouraged" (Duet. 1:21).
All Things Are Possible
Jesus later said (Mark 10:27),
"With God, all things are possible."
Luke recorded this statement
(18:27): "The things which are impossible with men are possible with God." As
the risen Christ told Thomas, "Be not faithless, but believing" (John 20:27).
Afraid, Discouraged, Angry
The congregation believed the ten.
[They] bade stone [Caleb and Joshua] with stones (Num. 14:10). They abandoned their faith
in the Almightys promise. They cried all night.
There is a mentality which says,
"Blame it on the leader." The people decided to depose Moses and set up another
leader who would take them back to Egypt.
Faith Requires Action
In Numbers 14:6-9, we read that
Caleb and Joshua "rent their clothes." They urged the people, "Do not rebel
against the LORD. Do not be afraid of the people of the land. We will swallow them up. The
LORD is with us."
Nor did Calebs boundless faith
deter him from exerting his physical prowess when waging war against Jehovahs
"What doth it profit . . .
though a man say he have faith, and have not works? . . . As the body without the spirit
is dead, so faith, without works is dead also" (Jas. 2:14,26).
God said, "No one who has
treated me with contempt will see [the Promised Land]. But because my servant Caleb has a
different spirit and follows me whole-heartedly, I will bring him into the land he went
to, and his descendants will inherit it" (Num. 14: 23,24).
The ten explorers whose report
caused Israel to grumble against Moses leadershipthese ten were struck down
and died of a plague. Only Caleb and Joshua survived (Num. 14:36-33).
The principle was later expressed,
"The just shall live by faith . . . if any man draw back, my soul shall have no
pleasure in him" (Heb. 10:38).
"Without faith it is impossible
to please [God]...he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder
of them that diligently seek him" (Heb. 11:6).
"And Joshua blessed Caleb, and
gave him Hebron for his inheritance" (Josh. 14:13).
The Strengths of Caleb
At the age of 85, Caleb was still a
strong soldier. He drove out the Anakim from Hebron. (Josh. 14:6-15; 15:14) He then
attacked Debir, southwest of Hebron. This conquest was a difficult challenge, so Caleb
offered his daughter Achsah in marriage to the valiant warrior who would obtain the
victory. Othniel won Achsah and a southland and upper springs and nether springs. (Josh.
Caleb lived a life of discipline and
self-control. He never permitted himself to become soft. He maintained his assurance in
the presence and power of Yahweh; this perspective prevented him from frittering away his
physical well-being through tension and stress. The sterling faith which characterized his
life remains a beacon light, shining for the encouragement of all lovers of God forever.
Rahab--Faith Hanging On A Thread
"By faith the harlot Rahab
perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with
By Carl Hagensick
By the grace of God even a harlot
could become a hero of faith. While some, eager to protect Rahabs reputation, hold
that the word translated harlot can also be translated innkeeper, the distinction is more
apparent than real. Nelsons Bible Dictionary, after discussing cult prostitution,
states: "A second class of prostitutes consisted of those who owned bars or inns and
had sexual relations with the patrons who desired their services. Rahab of Jericho was
such a woman (Josh. 2:1; 6:17-25). God had mercy on her, and she was delivered and
transformed. Her name is included in the genealogy of the Messiah (Matt. 1:5)."
As such she may have had clients who
merely sought lodging as well as those who had more intimate dealings in mind. This may
explain why the spies went to her house in the first placemerely seeking a
The name Rahab means pride and may
be further indicative of the worldliness of her parentage and upbringing.
Joshua had sent out two spies to
determine the strength of Jericho in preparation to do battle against it. They lodged at
Rahabs inn. The king of Jericho sent men to apprehend the spies, having heard of
their mission. While admitting that the spies had been there, Rahab protected them by
lying to the kings agents, saying: "And it came to pass about the time of
shutting of the gate, when it was dark, that the men went out: whither the men went I wot
not: pursue after them quickly; for ye shall overtake them" (Josh. 2:5).
Then, returning to the spies whom
she had hidden behind stalks of flax on her roof, she confessed her faith: "And she
said unto the men, I know that the LORD hath given you the land, and that your terror is
fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you. For we have
heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt;
and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan,
Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed. And as soon as we had heard these things, our
hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for
the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath (Josh. 2:9-11)
The Basis of Her Faith
As an innkeeper Rahab would have
been well informed of outside events as travelers would talk of their journeys and
experiences. She had heard of the miraculous crossing of the Red Sea some forty year
prior, and of the recent conquests of Israel in the conquest of the two kings of the
Amorites. Word of these events had spread through Jericho and frightened the people. But
fright is not faith.
Rahab may well have shared the fright of the other townspeople,
but she reasoned upon the events reported and drew a conclusion that others had not drawn;
namely, that if Israel had enjoyed such miraculous victories there god must be the true
God. She had even sought out his name, as is indicated in her concluding words to the
spies: "for the LORD [Jehovah] your God, he
is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath" (v. 11).
Rahab had thus progressed from information to belief in the
truthfulness of her information to a reasonable conclusion from itthat Jehovah was
God. Now, to prove that it was really faith, action was required. This final step of faith
is recorded in James 2:25, "Likewise also was not Rahab the harlot justified by
works, when she had received the messengers, and had sent them out another way?"
The Token of her Faith
The other way by which she sent the
spies was circuitous. First, dwelling on the city wall, she let them down by rope.
Secondly, she instructed them that their pursuers were sent eastward to the Jordan,
therefor they should go westward into the surrounding mountains for three days until their
pursuers would return. These were the same mountains where, centuries later, Jesus would
be driven by the spirit to be tempted after his baptism in the river Jordan.
In return for saving their lives,
she requested that the lives of herself and her family be saved.
A sign, or token of her faith, was
established between her and the spies. As a memorial of the rope by which they had been
saved, she was to hang a scarlet thread from her window until the Israelites would attack.
The effectiveness of her sign soon
became evident. One week later the Israelites began their attack by circling the city for
seven days with the blowing of trumpets. On the last day they marched around the city
seven times and the walls collapsedthough the house of Jericho which was in the wall
was not destroyed. Before burning the city, Joshua sent the two spies back into the city
to rescue Rahab and her family. "But Joshua had said unto the two men that had spied
out the country, Go into the harlots house, and bring out thence the woman, and all
that she hath, as ye sware unto her. And the young men that were spies went in, and
brought out Rahab, and her father, and her mother, and her brethren, and all that she had;
and they brought out all her kindred, and left them without the camp of Israel"
(Josh. 6:22, 23).
The Rewards of Faith
Rahabs faith was richly
rewarded in at least four ways.
A NEW GOD: Becoming
a proselyte to the Jewish faith this Canaanite, in effect, said the same thing to the two
spies that her future great granddaughter-in-law, Ruth the Moabitess would say to Naomi:
"thy people shall be my people, and thy God my God" (Ruth 1:16). Her new
religion not only brought her peace of mind, but gave her all the advantages of a covenant
relationship with God which Israel alone enjoyed (Amos 3:2).
A NEW HUSBAND:
While the identity of the two spies is not specifically given, we can speculate that one
of them was Salmon of the tribe of Judah. His father Nahshon was the leader of that tribe
during the earlier wilderness wanderings (Num. 1:7; 2:3). Since Judah was the leading
tribe (Num. 10:14) and since Nahshon had died in the wilderness, it is likely that his son
Salmon would have taken his place. Whether it was on this occasion or later is
inconsequential for, in either case, Salmon of the princely line in Judah, the royal tribe
of Israel, became the husband of Rahab (Matt. 1:5).
AN ILLUSTRIOUS FAMILY:
The family of Salmon and Ruth became the royal family of Israel. "And Salmon begat
Boaz, and Boaz begat Obed, And Obed begat Jesse, and Jesse begat David" (Ruth 4:21,
22). Most importantly, she became an ancestor of Jesus of Nazareth (Luke 3:32; Matt. 1:5).
In addition to the kingly line, rabbinic tradition states that Rahab was the ancestor of
eight prophets, including Jeremiah and the prophetess Huldah.
LONGEVITY: While we
are not informed of the age of Rahab at her death there is evidence that she lived an
unusually long life. Being an innkeeper, as well as a worker in flax, she was of
sufficient age to have accumulated property and a business clientele before she
entertained the spies. The book of Judges was written some 40 years later and notes Rahab
as being remarkable for being alive at the time of the writing: "And Joshua saved
Rahab the harlot alive, and her fathers household, and all that she had; and she
dwelleth in Israel even unto this day; because she hid the messengers, which Joshua sent
to spy out Jericho" (Josh. 6:25).
The brief genealogy given in Ruth
spans a period of 490 years in just five generationsRuth, Boaz, Obed, Jesse,
Davidan average period of 98 years between generations. We know that David was a son
of Jesses old age and that Boaz was Ruths second husband. This leads to the
conclusion that Rahab achieved great longevity and was probably well advanced in years
when she gave birth to Boaz.
Rahab and Lydia
From the two pieces of evidence that Rahab hid the spies behind sheaves of flax and the
scarlet thread we have a hint that Rahab had a sideline business dealing in linen
garments. This suggests an interesting comparison between her and a New Testament hero of
"And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which
worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things
which were spoken of Paul. And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us,
saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide
there. And she constrained us" (Acts 16:14, 15).
· As Lydia, a Gentile who had become a proselyte to Judaism, was the
first European to be converted by the Apostle Paul; so Rahab, a Gentile, was the first in
the promised land to become a convert to Judaism.
· As Lydia offered her home for hospitality to the strangers from
Asia Minor, so Rahab housed the Israelite spies.
· As not only Lydia, but her whole household, was saved; so
Rahabs faith not only saved herself, but her entire household.
· As Lydia attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul, so
Rahab carefully heeded the instructions of the spies.
· As Lydia was a seller of purple [purple-dyed garments], so Rahab
was a merchant in red linen garments.
Still another remarkable parallel
exists for Rahab. In Proverbs 31:10-31 we have a description of a virtuous woman, many of
the details of which are appropriate to Rahab.
· "Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above
rubies. . . . She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. . . . She
maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant" (Prov.
31:10, 13, 24). Rahab dealt in flax and linen.
· "She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth
forth her hands to the needy" (Prov. 31:20). So Rahab stretched forth her hands to
the needy spies
· "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her
household are clothed with scarlet" (Prov. 31:21) Because of the cost of the scarlet
dye, clothing of scarlet was reserved for durable and warm fabrics, indicative of the kind
of clothing which Rahab may have made.
· "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the
elders of the land" (Prov. 31:23). Salmon, Rahabs husband, was one of the
elders of the tribe of Judah.
· "Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband
also, and he praiseth her" (Prov. 31:28). How blessed has been the memory of Rahab, a
memory blessed by the royal line of children which came from her faith and conversion to
the God of Israel.
· "Favor is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that
feareth the LORD, she shall be praised" (Prov. 31:30).. The Jewish rabbis hold that
Rahab was one of the four most beautiful women in the world. Whether the tradition is so
or not we do not know; but it is not for her beauty that she is remembered, rather she is
praised because she feareth the LORD.
"Give her of the fruit of her
hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates."Proverbs 31:31
Rose of Moab, Rose of Sharon
And Ruth said, Entreat me not to
leave thee, or to return from following after thee: for whither thou goest, I will go; and
where thou lodgest, I will lodge; thy people shall be mu people, and thy God my
from "Meggison Notes" by J. A. Meggison
During the time of the Judges, there
was no ruler in Israel. Gods chosen people were more free than any nation in the
But there was a severe famine in
this Land of Promise. Even in Bethlehem, "the house of bread," where olives,
pomegranates, figs, almonds, grapes and grain usually grew in abundance, there was
A Family Flees a Famine
Elimelech ("God is my
King") lived in the region called Ephrata ("bearing, fruitful.")
Considering the hardship to his family more important than the covenant of his people,
Elimelech took them to the very nation which had oppressed Israel, idolatrous
The sons names did not
indicate faith, as did their parentsstrange, in a culture where names were
significant. Mahlon meant "weak" or "sick"; Chilion meant
"pining" or "destruction."
Mother Naomi seems to have lived up
to her name"pleasant, lovely"; she was greatly loved.
Gods Judgments Follow His People
After arriving in Moab, Elimelech
died. He had not trusted Gods love in the Promised Land; now, divine judgment smote
him in the strange land.
Still, the young men did not return
to the land of their birth. Instead, they married heathen women and settled down. Perhaps
they hoped to return to Israel when the famine was past; but both sons died before that
happened. They did not seem to have considered Gods will nor his Law, for Israel was
commanded to stay separate from heathen nations.
Now Naomi was at liberty to make a
choice. She no longer had a husband to obey, nor sons to consider. She turned her heart
Naomi Bids Farewell
Naomi instructed her dear
daughters-in-law to return to their mothers homes and start their lives afresh. She
blessed them with these words, "Jehovah grant that you may find rest, each in the
home of a husband. Jehovah deal kindly with you, as you dealt with the dead and me."
They had been good wives to her sons, good daughters to her. They shared a beautiful love.
Worshiping Jehovah In Moab
Ruth and Orpah had loved the holy
atmosphere of their husbands home. Even while Elimelech and Mahlon and Chilion had
enjoyed the comforts of Moab, they had continued to worship the true God. The Moabite
wives had experienced a great contrast between the purity of Israels Jehovah and the
abominable idolatry of Moab with its sensual excesses and sinful customs. They did not
want to return to the habits of heathendom. They were ready to go with Naomi.
Naomis Practical Advice
Naomi had to tell them that no man
in Israel would marry them because they were foreigners. The lot of a widow would be hard.
By staying in Moab, they could remarry and find the protection and honor of being a wife,
so necessary in those days.
"Would You Shut Yourselves Up?"
It would have been acceptable for
Ruth and Orpah to marry a brother-in-law to receive continued protection, but Naomi
reminded them that she had no son to assume this duty. She added, "Even if I should
this night...bear sons, would ye shut yourselves up and wait till they were grown?"
"Shut yourselves up" is an
interesting phrase. A bride covered herself with a veil, withdrew from public view and
shut herself up. It was like a shutting in by flowers, a shutting in for the purpose of
perfection and coronation, being hedged in. Canticles 4:12 speaks of "a garden
enclosed is my sister, my spouse; a spring shut up, a fountain sealed."
"Find rest [Hebrew, menuchah)
in the home of a husband," Naomi had said. Menuchah refers to a resting place.
Whereas David had been a man of war, his son Solomon was the first king who could praise
God for the complete menuchah gift. (1 Kings 8:56) The Holy Land, when possessed in
faith and obedience, was the earthly menuchah to which earthly Israel had come, as
the bride to the house of her husband.
Israels highest menuchah
is their God and his covenant. The worlds final rest and home is mentioned in Isaiah
11:10, "His rest (menuchah) shall be glorious."
Jesus called to men in the Gospel
age (Matt. 11:29), Take my yoke upon you and...ye shall find rest (anapanois or menuchah)
for your soulsa place of peace, a home for your souls.
Orpah is Convinced
Orpah had a hunger for a resting
place, security. She dreaded having to "shut herself up." Although she loved
Naomi, she counted the cost and it was too much for her. She represented a class whose
love for truth and righteousness is not enough to suffer much. They turn back into the
world, as Orpah turned back to Moab.
The Rose of Moab
"Ruth" is derived from a
Hebrew word for "rose." This Rose of Moab loved Naomi and Naomis God
Jehovah. She was like the Christians who sacrifice their earthly fathers inheritance
to become Gods people.
Naomi had lived her life so
beautifully that her God was reflected in her self-sacrificing love. Let us "be
blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and
perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world." (Phil. 2:14-16)
"Be thou an example of believers" (1Tim. 4:12). "Ye are living epistles,
known and read of all men" (2 Cor. 3:2, 3).
Naomis Sad Homecoming
Naomi and her rose, her priceless
jewel, Ruth, left Moab and went to Israel. The old hometown was stirred to see them. The
women asked, "Is this Naomi?" They were contrasting her condition this day with
that of ten years ago when she had left them in their troubles, hoping to fare better.
"Call me not Naomi, but
Mara," she sighed. Naomi was no longer splendid and full of delight. El Shaddai
has dealt bitterly with me. Mara means "bitter." El Shaddai referred to
the Almighty as gracious, author of fruitfulness and blessing. God had refused to bless
them in a foreign land, as they had refused his chastening in Israels famine. In the
loss of children and family, "Shaddai hath declared me guilty."
Yet, Gods faithfulness and
love had reached out into Moab and overruled their affairs to bring them back. "There
is a friend that clingeth closer than a brother" (Prov. 18:24). "I drew them
with the bands of love" (Hos. 11:4). Shortly, the neighbors returned to their own
pursuits, and Ruth went to the fields to glean. It was a miserable task for a
once-prosperous widow. A day of distressful heat brought a little barley. Ruths love
for Naomi gave her strength. And Jehovah directed her steps.
Boaz, a Godly Man
Her lot met her in the fields of
Boaz. Boaz greeting to his workers shows a God-bent disposition, Jehovah be with
you. They reflected his character in replying, Jehovah bless thee. Boaz noticed
Ruths demeanor. She was industrious, earnest, reservednot bold, not noisy. He
asked the overseer about her.
The Law of Israel provided for Ruth
as an impoverished stranger (Deut. 24:19-22). Boaz was obliged to give her this right, but
he was not obliged to do more. He was careful not to wound Ruths self-respect by
offering her charity, but he instructed his binders to drop a handful of grain
occasionally so her gleaning would be fruitful. At noon, he invited her to eat with the
other reapers, and passed her bits of corn and sour wine for refreshment.
Boaz did not say, "I will help
you." He said, "Jehovah recompense thee, and a full reward be given thee by
Jehovah.under whose wings thou art come to trust." She would find this blessing as
she would seek shelter under the protection of the covenant-keeping God, among a covenant
These words were the first ray of
sunshine breaking through the grief of many weeks. She was lonely, without family or home.
Now she heard the name of Israels God spoken with awe-inspiring reverence, as Naomi
had felt itanother voice of blessing from another of Gods people.
Kind words to a loving heart are
like morning dew on a thirsty field. Ruth said to Boaz, "I have been sad, but you
comfort me. I looked for no reward, but you speak to my heart." She returned to her
gleaning, not slackening her hand. She worked until twilight, even staying to thresh
grain. She took 3-1/2 pecks of barley to Naomi, and food saved from dinner.
Naomi Recognizes Jehovahs Guidance
Naomi watched the Lords
providence: Jehovah hath not left off his kindness to the living and the dead. His
blessings be on the man who has befriended you.
It was the custom of Israel: Naomi
said to Ruth, "Shall I not seek a menuchah for thee?" She desired a home
for her ward.
The Law of Israel provided that the
nation be preserved in its families. If a man died childless, it was as though a branch
had withered. A new branch must be grafted in by the nearest male, the relative marrying
the widow. Each family was responsible for keeping the branch alive. No one could redeem
the family except a blood relative.
Ruth Had to be a Blood Relative
Just as a redeemer in this Levirate
law had to be a blood relative, so Jesus had to become a blood relative of Adams
race, human flesh, nourished by the body of Mary, before he could purchase the human
Ruth Requests Boaz Protection
As advised by Naomi, Ruth asked Boaz
to "spread thine skirt (protection) over thine handmaid." Boaz was impressed by
Ruths courage. To save the name of her dead husband from extinction, she was
exposing herself to being misunderstood. She might have been considered brazen in her
actions. But noble Boaz credited Ruth with noble intentions.
He filled her vail with six measures
of barley grain, the number six representing labor. Seven represents rest; Boaz would seek
to provide rest for Ruth.
He gathered ten elders and had them
sit in the gate with him. Here he laid the case before Elimelechs nearer kinsman.
That man was willing to redeem the land for Naomi, but would not marry a Moabitess,
remembering the fate of Mahlon and Chilion.
Boaz knew that Ruth had become an
Israelite in faith and left Moabs gods and customs to join the covenant people. He
entered into the ceremony which gve Ruth to him. The other relative removed his shoe and
gave it to Boaz.
In Deuteronomy 11:24, a shoe refers
to possession. The relative could have had Ruth and done with her as he pleased as long as
it was honorable. He showed by this custom that he surrendered all rights and claims of
possession. So Boaz redeemed Naomis and Ruths inheritance, and married Ruth,
according to the law of Deuteronomy 25:5-10.
Jesus redeemed Adam and all his
children and Adams inheritance, the earth. He will marry the bride, a daughter of
Adam. This contract is witnessed by the ancient worthies in the place of judgment, before
the throne of God. He planted his shoe upon the inheritance by walking on the earth for
3-1/2 years. "Over Edom will I cast my shoe" (Psa. 60:8; 108:9). The Lord will
claim Edom as his possession, redeemed.
Ruth, Mother of Kings
Ruth represents the Gentiles who
come into the family of God by leaving behind home and family. They become the Bride of
the Prince, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, a ransom for all. They will be the mother
of kings. Ruth gave up her fathers home for the home of a prince of Israel, Boaz;
her people were the covenant people; she received the land, Naomis inheritance and
Boaz. So God deals with the Church.
Barak--Faith on the Battlefield
"And what more shall I say? For
time would fail me to tell of
. . . Barak." -- Hebrews 11:32
fought the first battle of Armageddon. The Israelites had been chastened for their
unfaithfulness to God under the hands of their enemies and the time had come for the tide
to turn. Israel turned back to God under the leadership of Deborah, a judge of Israel.
This was an unusual instance in which the Lord chose a woman to lead the nation of Israel.
She called to Barak to be the general to command the army of Israel,
10,000 in number.
days the army of Israel consisted of foot soldiers, men whose training was in farming,
fishing, and sheep herding. Israel didn't have a standing army to defend itself in times
of crisis. Instead each tribe called up a militia of its able-bodied men. Each tribe
fought most of its battles alone, but at times neighboring tribes would combine against a
common enemy. Occasionally a local leader would appear and lead the troops to victory. The
entire nation never made a united stand, but it came close to doing so in the time of
Deborah, the judge.
Canaanites of the northern and central hills had gathered a huge army led by the great
general Sisera. The Canaanite forces were gathering for an attack. They were skilled in
the art of war. Their chariots were made with iron. Not that their chariots were made
totally of iron, but that they were reinforced with iron and had iron blades projecting
from their axles so as to maim and kill their enemy with little effort. A great deal of
damage could be inflicted upon their foes by merely riding through the opponent's
formations. Nine hundred such chariots would easily defeat 10,000 foot soldiers.
contrast to the strength of iron equipment, the Israelites had instruments made of
copper-copper daggers and swords and shortranged bows. They had no armor for protection
other than inferior wooden shields covered with leather. Numbers were not enough to defeat
the army of the Canaanites.
mustering the troops upon Mount Tabor, General Barak and the army of Israel waited the
command. Barak knew that the Lord would deliver the enemy into their hands. He had faith
in the Lord as did the men gathered with him. Just as important, though, was their
recognition of Deborah, the judge. She had shown through her wise counsel and words that
the Lord was dealing through her to manage the affairs of Israel. It would not have been
appropriate to anticipate her decisions. If her counsel was wise in the past, then it was
worth waiting for now.
had come on the scene when the morale of Israel was low. Under servitude to others, the
Israelites were weak in faith. They had
intermarried with the Canaanites and left the ways of the covenant they had with the Lord.
Discipline was needed to bring them back into favor. Discipline is not what you do to
someone. Those that seek the Lord's favor have come to realize this valuable lesson.
Discipline is actually one of the signs of God's favor.
My son, always remember the value of the discipline
which comes to you from the Lord, and never be depressed and discouraged when he corrects
you. The Lord disciplines the man he loves and punishes every son whom he accepts into his
family. Hebrews 12:5, 6 Barclay
Israelites learned that the Lord was willing to remove the discipline he had given them,
they were eager to cooperate. What child would not be in favor of that arrangement! The
Lord's used Deborah. Her encouragement and guidance turned them back to the Lord once
again. Their faith strengthened, and their change in attitude made them willing to fight
under seemingly impossible situations.
God of the
An impossible situation is a great test to faith,
providing a platform for the display of God's almighty power. He is not only able to
deliver his people, but in doing so, he will give a lesson never to be forgotten, a lesson
that can be reflected upon with joy and encouragement for years to follow. God's way may
not be the way we would have selected, but then our view of matters is limited by our
human imperfections. God has a broader perspective that includes a longer lasting effect.
If our heart is right we will never be able to thank God enough for having done exactly
what he did, at the time he did, and in the
manner he did. We will see that his solution was the best thing that could have happened
Now no chastening for the
present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous; nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the
peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby. Hebrews 12:11
exactly what happened afterward. A song was made to honor the Lord's mighty power of
salvation in their time of need. The song of Deborah in Judges 5 has been a written record
for generations to remember.
A Matter of
the Lord was dealing with Deborah, so when asked by her to be the general of the
Israelites in battle, he agreed, but only if she would also go with them. He had faith in
the victory, but also he knew that Deborah knew the correct time of the events. The
Septuagint bears this out with his reply, 1 know not
the day in which the Lord will send his angel to give me success (Jud. 4:9). Barak
rested in Deborah's judgment of the situation. Her name signifies orderly motion. She knew the timing for victory
that day become any different from any other? Would a week or day one way or the other
have meant any different outcome? At the bottom of Mount Tabor lies a brook named Kishon.
Normally a brook would be but a minor obstacle to a trained army. During a rain storm
though, the water flowing down the hill sides can dramatically change a brook into a fast
moving river overflowing its banks. The result would slow the maneuvering of the enemy's
chariots and bog them down into the soft soil and sand beneath them. The Lord discomfited Sisera . . . (vs. 15). The
thought of confusion and panic can easily be appreciated when their plans of victory came
to a literal standstill. Judges 5:21 supports the thought of the waters of Kishon playing
an important role in the victory.
horses' hoofs (vs. 22) were even broken. As the Canaanites realized the turn of battle
against them they desperately tried to get away. In ancient times the horses were not
shod. Drawing the heavy chariots and urged on in desperation by the drivers, the horses
broke their hoofs on the rough terrain, leaving them lame and their drivers stranded. The
Lord knew how to turn a seeming victory of the Canaanites into a forceful display of his
power and victory for the Israelites. Soon every enemy was destroyed. Even their leader,
Sisera, was forced to abandon his chariot and escape, staying out of sight for a short
time. In the end, he too was destroyed. What a boost of faith that battle gave to all
of the judges was a favorable time for Israel. It was through the judges that the Lord
continually brought deliverance to Israel from their enemies. No wonder that the promise
of the Lord to restore thy judges as at the first (Isa.
1:26) became such a hope. It pointed to a time when there would again be blessings,
guidance and release from oppression.
location of the battle instantly brings to mind the battle of the great day in which the
enemies of our Lord will be drawn to battle-Armageddon, the final conflict. The Vulgate gives a different twist to Judges 5:8. The Lord chose a new species of war, and himself
subverted the gates of the enemy.
gathering of Barak upon Mount Tabor also ties in the victory with our Lord, for Mount
Tabor is the same mount on which our Lord's transfiguration was witnessed. It is where the
kingdom of Messiah was represented in a vision. Barak, meaning lightning or a gleaming sword, leads the battle at
the precise moment of God's plan not too soon, not too late. He would not step ahead on
his own, but would wait for the right time as indicated by the great judge of all Israel.
Just as our Lord did not know of the time of his return at his first advent, but left that
in the hands of the heavenly Father, being ready at the right moment.
But of that day and hour
knoweth no man, no not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.
for the Lord's timing was a sign of faith on Barak's part. To wait on the Lord takes
patience and faith . For this Barak was listed among the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11.
is behind this victory? It is the power that produces cloudbursts of truth and the rising
waters of knowledge that brings to pass the great catastrophe of the present order. This
power will bring the systems of society to a halt, unable to be pulled out of trouble by
their lame doctrines. And though the leaders may appear to escape the battle, it is for a
relatively short time. Even they will be destroyed in the end, never again to cast fear
upon the people.
They took no gain of
money. They fought from heaven: the stars in their courses fought against Sisera. Judges
of the enemy did not motivate the Israelites. Their motivation came from faith in God's
power to defeat the enemy and their obedience to follow Barak. And while it is true that
instruments which God uses to overpower his enemies in the great battle of Armageddon will
be the peoples, and multitudes, and tongues (Rev.
17:15), those associated with our Lord, the Lamb, in heaven will be the called, chosen and faithful (Rev. 17:14), the
little flock, placed in their positions of responsibility according to their faithfulness,
as one star differeth from another star in glory
(1 Cor. 15:41).
Sisera has the meaning of array (Young's). A fitting comparison to Satan,
whose array as an angel was as the son of the
morning (Isa. 14:12), whose outward appearance was designed to deceive, to appear as
an angel of light, when in fact his desire has been to seek out and devour the righteous
(2 Cor. 11:14; 1 Pet. 5:8).
Meroz Came Not
came to help Barak and assist in the victory. Singled out were the people of Meroz (Jud.
5:23). It would seem that they had an opportunity to render some particular assistance of
service, but held back on their involvement. Jewish traditions associate Meroz, which may
be interpreted as secret, with the evil angels which sided with the Canaanites. The
Judgment Day is not limited to the nations and governments of earth but includes the
judgment of those fallen angels which were kept in chains of darkness until the judgment
day (2 Pet. 2:4). Darkness and secret have often been associated with this' brotherhood of
God's creation since their fall before the days of Noah (Gen. 6:2). As the forces gather
for the battle of Armageddon, these angels have the unique vantage point of seeing the
Lord choosing a new species of war against Satan and his evil empire. Never before has the
Lord actually shown what he can do with his almighty power, but now in the hands of his
chosen general, these angels will see. For those angels which fail to join the battle on
the Lord's side, their fate will be the same as the people of Meroz (Jud. 5:23).
Curse ye Meroz, saith the angel of the Lord [Barak],
curse ye bitterly the inhabitants thereof because
they came not to the help of the Lord, to the help of the Lord with the heroes. (See Rotherham; Clark's
curse, this bitter curse, will be their doom. They will join Satan in his destruction.
Yet, a judgment suggests that there is an opportunity for them to make a change in their
course should any realize their situation. In the end it is Barak that decides their fate.
The church will also be involved in that judgment decision (1 Cor. 6:3). We can well
rejoice in the assurance that that judgment will not only be just, but will be merciful as
reminder to the generations that followed, a song of the battle was sung and recorded. The
victory of the church will be accompanied by the song of Moses and the Lamb. The ransomed
of all races and kindred will join in the singing as they grow to appreciate the great
victory of the ages. There will be different voices singing, but the end result will be
harmony and praise to the heavenly Father, sweet music to the ears.
Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty;
just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee O Lord, and
glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before
thee; for thy judgments are made manifest. Revelation 15:3, 4
And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to
Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. Isaiah 35:10
The Question Box
" . . . the journey
that thou takest shall not be for thine honor . . . "
Question: In view of this statement of Deborah to Barak,
why is Barak listed among the heroes of faith in Heb. 11:32,
and not Deborah?
Answer: Deborah did not claim the honor. She
manifested the greatest faith, but the honor of slaying the enemy captain was to go to
another woman, Jael, and not to Deborah. Deborahs faith was in the LORD alone, while
Baraks faith was partly in the LORD and partly in Deborahs faith.
Reviewing the battle against the
Canaanites, Jabin (probably a title rather than a name), the king in Hazor, apparently had
a Caucasian captain over his army, Sisera. [Sisera, which sounds more like Cicero than
like a Semitic name, may well have come to Jabin as part of a package deal for horses and
chariots. Magog (Genesis 10:2; the Ma-Saka ta, or Massegatae of Herodotus, in the steppes
of central Asia) were the ancient breeders of horses -- primarily war-horses. (Mongols
today are expert horsemen.)] Harosheth of the Goyim (Gutium, Gentile descendants of
Japheth, Caucasians) was a fort controlling the west entrance of the Plain of Esdraelon
(the largest inland plain in Israel). The road from Harosheth to Megiddo and Taanach runs
along the north slope of the Mount Carmel rangeon the south edge of the plain and
south of the Kishon River. Mount Tabor is the highest mount in the area (about 1800 feet)
and is at the north entrance to the plain.
Deborah (probably an Ephraimite) was
a prophetess and a judge (one who delivered the oppressed from the oppressor) at the time
she called for Barak and told him of the LORDs command to take 10,000 soldiers to
Mt. Tabor, that the LORD would draw Siseras host to the Kishon River and give Barak
the victory. Barak was willing, but only if Deborah herself had faith enough to go with
them. Deborah went, but said Sisera would not fall to Barak or his soldiers, but to a
woman. The chief honor goes to him who conquers the chief; therefore Barak would win the
battle but not the full honor accorded the victor. Nevertheless Barak did goan act
of faith against all worldly odds.
From Mt. Tabor Deborah could clearly
see the storm [Rain may be inferred from Judges 5:19-22, From heaven fought the stars,
from their courses they fought against Sisera. The river Kishon swept them away . . . then
did the horsehoofs stamp . . . There is nothing to indicate whether a tornado or hail
may have also played a part.] clouds forming to the southwest, even fifty miles away
beyond Mount Carmel. She knew when to tell Barak to go down into the Kishon River valley.
The clouds were hidden from Siseras view by the mountains all along the road as far
as Taanach. Then as Siseras 900 armored chariots and army were bearing downhill
toward the river on the seemingly hapless Israelites the storm came up over the mountain
range and caught up with them. Suddenly the might of the chariots was defeated the same
way the chariots had been defeated at the Red Seawith mud! The archers could not see
to shoot straight. The foot soldiers were unsupported, but their armor was too heavy to
run fast. The chariots were stuck in the mud. Harosheth was further away than the ten
miles that a horse could run without resting. They had a problem.
Even Siseras chariot was stuck
in the mud; so he got out of it and ran several miles to his "ally," Heber the
Kenite (a descendant of Moses brother-in-law). Appealing to Hebers wife Jael
to hide him, he was fed and went to sleep in her tent. Then she slew him and later showed
Barak the body. Baraks active faith was well rewarded with victory, though not with
the victors glory.
[This surprise victory in BC 1378
against a Canaanite alliance must have caused some concern in Egypt which had Canaanite
tribes for vassals and (untrustworthy) allies. But after Gideons victories over
Midian, Amalek, and the Arabs, Akhen-aton may not have been in a hurry to send troops
since the Israelites posed no threat to Egypt itself (and memories of the Exodus may have
also lingered), and they formed a good buffer between Egypt and the greater threat from
the east.] [The forty years rest for Israel after these two victories would have been
1378-1338 B.C., during which time the frantic el-Amarna letters were sent from Canaan to
the Egyptian kings Amenhotep III (?1408-1370) and Amenhotep IV (Akhen-aton, 1370-1352
according to Lee Casperson), and perhaps a few years after. The prince of Gezer writes,
"Let the king, my Lord, protect his land from the hand of the Apiru (Habiru =
Hebrews)." The prince of the Hebron district writes, "I and Abdu-Heba (prince of
Jerusalem) fight against the chief of the Apiru." (Later, he and Abdu-Heba complain
of each other's aggression.) Abdu-Heba writes, "Shall we do like Lab'ayu, who gave
the land of Shechem to the Apiru?" Again, "As long as the king, my lord, lives,
I will say to the commissioner of the king, my lord, 'Why do ye favor the Apiru and oppose
the governors?' . . . All the governors are lost; the king, my lord, does not have a
[single] governor [left]! . . . send out troops of archers, [for] the king has no lands
[left]! The Apiru plunder all the lands of the king." (The Ancient Near East,
Vol. 1, ed James B. Pritchard; Princeton, 1958.) We may thus understand the powerful
impact of Barak's victory and the progressive nature of Judges 4:24 (ASV), And the hand
of the children of Israel prevailed more and more against Jabin king of Canaan, until they
had destroyed Jabin king of Canaan.]
If we are tempted to think of Barak
as a coward, it would be well to think of ourselves being called to lead several poorly
armed people against nine hundred trucks accelerating towards us down a 3% grade. Yet,
when Deborah put herself in the same jeopardy with the soldiers, Barak did just that. Of
the faith of Jael we are not told for sure, though the scriptures give us no reason to
doubt it. But Deborah and Barak are both heroes of faith.
These Also Had Faith
Hebrews 11 lists many heroes of faith and
their deeds from Abel to Rahab. In this category, beginning in verse 32, a pairing of
names may be suggested.
Barak-- Judged 4:4-23
David--1 Samuel 16:13; 2 Samuel 7:25-29
Samuel--1 Samuel 3:19-21; 7:3-15
the mouths of lions
the power of fire
Shadrach, Meshach, Abed-nego--Daniel 3:(1-)16-27
the edge of the sword
Elisha --2 Kings 6:8-23
weakness were made strong
Elijah--1 Kings 18:20-40; 19:1-8
mighty in war
Abijah--2 Chronicles 13:3-21
to flight the armies of the alien
Asa--2 Chronicle 14:9-13
received their dead by a resurrection
widow of Zarephath--1 Kings 17:17-24
woman of Shunem--2 Kings 4:32-37
Jeremiah--Jeremiah 20:2-9; 37:15-21; 38:3-6
The three pairs given specifically (with names mentioned) are each
in reverse chronological order (as are the two next pairs suggested) which suggests that
pairs are intended. In the first pair, Barak needed a reassurance but then acted with full
assurance of faith to subdue kingdoms. It was likely only a few weeks later when Gideon
did likewise, probably strengthened also by Baraks successful step of faith.
Samson -- Faith Goes It
"Woe to him that is alone
when he falleth;
for he hath not another to help him up."Ecclesiastes 4:10
By Richard Evans
As the age of the Judges came to a
close, God found it necessary to again chasten his people."And the children of Israel
did evil again in the sight of the LORD; and the LORD delivered them into the hand of the
Philistines forty years."Judges 13:1
Shortly thereafter an angel of
Jehovah appeared unto a barren woman, the wife of Manoah, of the tribe of Dan (Judg.
13:2), and announced the birth of a child [probably about the same time Hannah petitioned
Eli]. "For, lo, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and no razor shall come on his
head: for the child shall be a Nazarite unto God from the womb: and he shall begin to
deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines."Judges 13:5
Thus, even as God began his
punishment of Israel, he set in motion a plan that would moderate that punishment and
ultimately bring about deliverance.
Then Old Testament account of this
miracle child is brief. Besides the angelic announcement only three episodes are recounted
from a life that spanned nearly forty years:
1. His courtship and marriage to a
daughter of the Philistines, his fight with a lion, his wifes death, and the
conflict with the Philistines [a period of months.]
2. His visit to Gaza and the taking
of the city gate [one day.]
3. His courtship of Delilah, her
betrayal and his capture, and his victory in death [another period of months.]
Thankfully, the writer of the
epistle to the Hebrews added important insight into this brief record. "And what
shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of
Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets: who through faith
subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouth of lions,
... out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies
of the aliens."Hebrews 11:32-34
The writer continued: "And these all, having obtained a good report through
faith" (Heb. 11:39). Through his faith Samson was given a good report. This good
report was not gratuitous. Samson believed God and lived his life accordingly. For
example, following his battle with the Philistines at Lehi he had a life-threatening
thirst. With complete certainty he called upon the God of Israel and water came forth
(Judg. 15:19). God had promised Samson he was to do a work. His faith in that promise gave
him the boldness to ask for the water. Believing God, he knew he would not be allowed to
perish. It was this same faith that gave him the confidence to face a lion with no weapon
and to face a thousand Philistines with only the jawbone of an ass.
When studying the account of Samson
care must be taken not to be confused by the King James translation. In the birth
announcement (Judg. 13:5), for instance, the KJV can lead one to believe that Samson was
subject to the conditions of the vow given in Numbers 6:1-21. The Hebrew word translated
"Nazarite" means separated, set aside, consecrated. Rotherhams rendering
makes clear the relationship Samson enjoyed. "For lo! thou art about to conceive and
bare a son, and no razor shall come on his head, for one separate unto God shall the boy
be from his birthand he shall begin to save Israel out of the hand of the
Philistines" (Jud. 13:5, Rotherham).
condition placed on Samsons separation concerned his hair. There was no prohibition
concerning wine, strong drink, or touching a dead body. Also this relationship was not
something Samson freely elected, nor was it for a short term. On the other hand the vow in
Numbers 6 involved all these things. There is no indication that Samson took such a vow or
was obligated to live within its requirements. In fact, while under the direction of the
spirit of the Lord he killed over a thousand men (Judg. 14:19; 15:8, 14, 16). If he was
under the vow this would present a serious dilemma.
When Samson was in his late teens,
he was led by the Lord to marry a daughter of the Philistines. "And Samson said unto
his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and mother knew not
that it was the LORD, that he sought occasion against the Philistines" (Jud. 14:3,
Here again the KJV may cause confusion. The use of the word pleaseth could lead to
the thought that Samsons motivation was selfish and lustful. The marginal reading
presents the literal and more correct rendering. "Get her for me, for she is right in
mine eye" (Jud. 14:3, Margin). She was right for Samson because it was the
Lords will for him. It would provide an occasion against the Philistines.
The events that grew out of the
wedding feast proved that assertion. Samson had the opportunity to do much damage to the
Philistines; and it was done in such a way as not to bring down the wrath of the
Philistines on his countrymen. At that time [probably after Israels great defeat at
Ebenezer and the loss of the Ark], the people were demoralized and unable to challenge the
intruders. So the marriage provided a means of limiting the incursion while restricting
the conflict to Samson. He alone would incur the ire of the enemy. He alone would be
He Was Different
the account highlights a number of differences between Samson and other men used by God.
Others were raised as a result of a time of repentance by Israel, and a turning to God for
help. Their task was one of leadership. They did not fight alone, but led the men of
Israel. No such turning to God for help, however, preceded Samsons separation. As a
result the people were not ready to receive him or rally to his support. Unlike the
others, Samson was not to lead Israel into battle. He was to fight alone. Unlike the
others, national repentance came after his judgeship, after his victory in death [see
His singlehanded defeat of a
thousand men, his burning of the Philistine fields, vineyards, and orchards, some twenty
years into their dominion over Israel, must have had a moderating effect on their conduct.
The economic impact must have weakened them. Following on the heels of their experience
with the Ark (1 Sam. 5:1-6:21), the Philistines, no doubt, exercised a bit more caution in
their dealings with Israel.
Gaza During his Judgeship
Samson went down to Gaza. We are not
told the reason for the visit. The unfortunate rendering by the KJV discussed above could
easily lead to an assumption that it was lust since he chose the house of a harlot for his
rest (Jud. 16:1). Nothing in the account, however, supports such a conclusion. Apparently
it was not uncommon in that day for the houses of harlots to function as inns, just as in
the days of Joshua when the spies stayed with Rahab in Jericho (Josh. 2:1). There was
probably a very practical, but less sensational, reason for the visit.
"Now there was no smith found throughout the land of Israel; for the Philistines
said, Lest the Hebrews make them swords or spears: But all the Israelites went down to the
Philistines, to sharpen every man his share, and his coulter, and his axe, and his
mattock."1 Samuel 13:19, 20
The Philistines enjoyed a
technological edge and they very jealously guarded it. Their iron was greatly superior to
the brass of Israel. Though much to their chagrin, no doubt, their iron did not stand up
to Shamgars ox goad, Samsons jawbone of an ass, or Davids stone from a
brook. Whatever the reason for Samson going to Gaza, the removal of the city gate once
more demonstrated to the Philistines the great power of the God of Israel. Though God was
using them to punish his people he was not going to let them have complete freedom to do
as they willed. The Bible does not indicate the time of the visit but it was probably near
the end of Samsons twenty year judgeship. His great defeats against the Philistines
would have faded in their memories. The removal of the gate would have jarred them and
renewed in them a desire to get rid of him. So their subsequent bribery of Delilah may
have been a direct outcome of Samsons visit to Gaza.
As his time came to a close Samson
did let the love of a woman come between him and his relationship with God. The silence of
the Bible indicates that they both were unmarried at the time. There is nothing said about
Delilahs race or religion. She could have been a Hebrew. Both peoples lived in the
valley of Sorek, and the name Delilah is Semitic in form.
When a broad
view is taken of Samsons life, his failure because of love is understandable. Though
married at an early age, before he could enjoy the fruits of that relationship it was
lost. Shortly thereafter his countrymen rejected him. They take him captive and turn him
over to the enemy. Apparently he then lived alone for twenty years, carrying the burden of
his loss and his rejection. He probably had few friends as most would be in awe of his
great strength. There is little wonder, then, that he would be blinded by this love for a
woman, a relationship that provided much needed human companionship. . . . and, he did
"And it came to pass afterward,
that he loved a woman in the valley of Sorek, whose name was Delilah."Judges
Because of his love Samson was not able to see Delilahs weakness. His love led him
to share a confidence she could not keep. So God departed from him. He was taken captive
In the end, however, Samson accomplished Gods purpose for him. He called upon God
with the confidence he had had in the past with the faith he had had, and he was heard
(Judg. 16:28). The destruction of the temple of Dagon and the death of a great number that
were in it set in motion the events that led to the Israelite defeat of the Philistines at
"So the Philistines were subdued, and they came no more into the coast of
Israel."1 Samuel 7:13
As the angel had declared, Samson
did begin to deliver Israel out of the had of the Philistines (Judg. 13:5). Abraham,
Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideonall the faithful of oldbelieved God,
believed in his promise. So did Samson. His life reflected that belief. Jehovah is not
ashamed to be called the God of Samson (Heb. 11:16).
When Did Samson Live?
To fully understand the story of Samson it is necessary to correlate events in his life
with events in the contemporary history of Israel. The beginning point for such a quest is
the birth announcement. The angel declared Samson would begin to deliver Israel out of the
hand of the Philistines (Judg. 13:5). This indicates that the announcement and
Samsons birth was subsequent to the beginning of the forty year punishment of Judges
Though by no means absolute, the
Scriptural testimony seems to indicate the end point of that forty year period was
Israels victory at Mizpeh under the leadership of Samuel.
"So the Philistines were
subdued, and they came no more into the coast of Israel: and the hand of the LORD was
against the Philistines all the days of Samuel."1 Samuel 7:13
This Israelite victory was preceded by a twenty year period during which the Ark of the
Covenant rested in the home of Abinadab (1 Sam. 7:1, 2). The Ark had been placed there
after its return by the Philistines. Its capture had been brought about by Israels
defeat at Ebenezer, and its loss resulted in the death of Eli (1 Samuel 4).
Hence Samsons twenty years of judging in the days of the Philistines (Jud. 15:20;
14:4) must have taken place during the latter half of that forty year period following
Elis death and during the time the Ark rested in the house of Abinadab. His marriage
must have been at the midpoint of that period when he was in his late teensabout the
time of the Arks capture.
If this scenario be correct, the defeat of Israel at Ebenezer took place a short time
before the capture of Samson by the men of Judah. This would explain their great fear of
the Philistines and their willingness to turn Samson over to their enemies.
"Then three thousand men of Judah went to the top of the rock Etam, and said to
Samson, Knowest thou not that the Philistines are rulers over us? What is this that thou
hast done unto us?" (Judg. 15:11).
Also this scenario would place the destruction of the temple of Dagon, along with that of
a great number of Philistines, shortly before Israels victory at Mizpeh, and would
thus explain an otherwise inexplicable text. Israel had gathered at Mizpeh not to do
battle, but to pray (1 Sam. 7:5)a consequence of a great change that had come over
"And it came to pass, while the
ark abode in Kirjath-jearim, that the time was long, for it was twenty years: and all the
house of Israel lamented after the LORD."1 Samuel 7:2
That last clause was dropped in the text without explanation. There is no indication of
any kind of the cause of Israels sudden change of heart. If Samsons victory in
death happened just before this change, as seems to be the case, then we have the answer.
Samsons great act of self-sacrifice would have been the catalyst that brought on
Israels lament and thus the subsequent deliverance from the hand of the Philistines
(Jud. 13:1; 1 Sam. 7:13).
Faith Faces a Conspiracy
"They which builded on the wall, and they that
bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his, hands wrought in the work,
and with the other hand held a weapon." - Nehemiah 4:17
A verse by verse study in Nehemiah 6.
picture was bleak in those post-exilic days of Jewish history (about 460 B.C.). Jerusalem,
the city of gold in its glory days under Solomon, had become little more than a heap of
ruins. The Jews who had returned from the Babylonian captivity were depressed by the
primitive living conditions. Even the temple which Zerubbabel had rebuilt was so meager
when compared to Solomon's magnificent edifice that those who had seen both temples wept
for the misfortunes of Israel. (Ezra 3:12, 13). In addition, the city was surrounded by
enemies who bitterly opposed the Israelites who were trying to rebuild the city. No wonder
that Nehemiah, a faithful Jew and cupbearer to Cyrus, king of Persia, reacted as he did to
the news of Jerusalem's plight.
And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the
captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of
Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire. And it came to
pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and
fasted, and ,prayed before the God of heaven. -Nehemiah 1:3, 4
returning to Jerusalem, Nehemiah surveyed the situation and motivated the populace to
rebuild the wall. Ridicule and threats from the surrounding peoples forced the laborers to
work with hods and trowels in one hand and weapons in the other (Neh. 4:17).
Now it came to
pass, when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and Geshem the Arabian, and the rest of our enemies,
heard that I had builded the wall, and that there was no breach left therein; (though at
that time I had not set up the doors upon the gates;) That Sanballat and Geshem sent unto
me, saying, Come, let us meet together in some one of the villages in the plain of Ono.
But they thought to do me mischief.-(vs. 1, 2)
failed with ridicule and threats, the enemies formed a conspiracy to lure Nehemiah outside
the safety of the city to the fortified city of Ono, some forty miles northwest of
Jerusalem. There, under the ruse of a peace conference, they hoped to slay him.
there were many tribes opposing Israel, the trio mentioned in these verses represented the
largest of the enemy forces. Sanballat, a Horonite, was a Samaritan from the north; and
Tobiah, an Ammonite, came from Transjordan, on the east (Neh. 2:10). The Arabians from the
southeast were represented by Geshem, or Gashmu.
the installation of some twelve gates remaining, this plot was an effort by Israel's foes
to thwart the work. The city of Ono was undoubtedly chosen because it would appear to be
neutral ground, not under the command of any of the three conspirators. However, the
approach to it led through a precipitous mountain pass where Nehemiah's band could be
easily ambushed. Appropriately enough the name Ono means grief, and that is just what they wanted to cause
And I sent
messengers unto them, saying, I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why
should the work cease, whilst I leave it; and come down to you? (vs. 3).
that the very cause of the proposed conference was to stop his work of rebuilding the city
walls, Nehemiah used his project as his reason for refusing the proposed negotiations.
singleness of purpose is a lesson to all who seek to accomplish a work for the Lord. A
line from a familiar hymn expresses it well: My goal
is Christ and Christ alone!
Not to be
easily put off, the conspirators pressed their cause with repetitive invitations.
Yet they sent
unto me four times after this sort; and I answered them after the same manner (vs. 4).
been well said of Satan, "If you can give him credit for nothing else, at least you
have to admire his persistency." How often the same is true with our experiences.
Meeting a temptation with refusal may be done once with resolute rejection, but facing the
same test over and over again tends to wear down resistance.
are the words of the Apostle Paul in this regard: Wherefore
let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall (1 Cor. 10:12).
An Open Letter
to give up after four rejections by Nehemiah, the conspirators tried another tactic an
open letter read to all the people.
Then sent Sanballat his
servant unto me in like manner the fifth time with an open letter in his hand; Wherein was
written, It is reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it, that thou and the Jews
think to rebel: for which cause thou buildest the walk that thou mayest be their king,
according to these words. And thou hast also appointed prophets to preach of thee at
Jerusalem, saying, There is a king in Judah: and now shall it be reported to the king
according to these words. Come now therefore, and let us take counsel together (vs. 5-7).
contained three specific charges against Nehemiah: (1) fomenting rebellion against Persia;
(2) personal ambition to be king; and (3)
mounting a public relations program to achieve these ends.
charge is supported by the evidence that they were building the wall; the implication
being that building fortifications anticipated attacks and, since the surrounding tribes
were feigning a willingness to negotiate, it must be against Persia that Nehemiah was
building fortifications. The fallacy of their argument is quickly evident when considering
where the conference was proposed -- a mighty walled and fortified city itself--the city
charge was more subtle. Nehemiah had been duly appointed governor of Jerusalem by Cyrus
(Neh. 2:7-9). In carrying out his duties with
a populace that had become apathetic to their religion and discouraged as to their
prospects, Nehemiah had to take a heavy hand. He berated the nobles soundly for oppressing
their own people (chap. 5). This would naturally
raise a certain amount of enmity in return by the former leaders of the Jews. Sanballat
sought to enflame this incipient unrest with this open letter.
charge, like so many of the great Adversary's attacks, was based on a half truth. In point
of fact, Nehemiah had encouraged the prophets to proclaim that there was a king in
Jerusalem. That much of the charge was true. What was false was the implication that
Nehemiah was the king they were proclaiming. In fact he was encouraging them to prophesy
that Jehovah was their king. He desired to ignite the religious vision which should
provide the true motivation to rebuild Jerusalem, restoring it to the glory of the former
Then 1 sent unto him, saying,
There are no such things done as thou sayest, but thou feignest them out of throe own
heart. For they all made us afraid, saying, Their hands shall be weakened from the wont;
that it be not done. Now therefore, O God, strengthen my hands (vs. 8, 9).
denial of the accuracy of the charges was sufficient for Nehemiah. He saw no need to
produce witnesses and evidences that the charges were false. Such would only serve to
further detract him from his work. How reminiscent is this of Jesus of whom it was
prophesied: he is brought as a lamb to the
slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth (Isa.
However, resolute as Nehemiah was in his answer to Sanballat, the
effect the open letter might have on the people did sufficiently concern the governor to
make it a matter of prayer -- a short and simple prayer Now, therefore, O God, strengthen my hands. Too frequently
Christians seek to stand in their own confidence against the temptations of the Adversary.
How appropriate to all is this short prayer so that fear not weaken our hands in the
Sanctuary in the
Afterward I came unto the
house of Shemaiah the son of Delaiah the son of Mehetabeel, who was shut up; and he said,
Let us meet together in the house of God, within the temple, and let us shut the doors of
the temple: for they will come to slay thee; yea, in the night will they come to slay
thee. And 1 said, Should such a man as I flee? and who is there, that, being as 1 am,
would go into the temple to save his life? I will not go in. And, lo, I perceived that God
had not sent him; but that he pronounced this prophecy against me: for Tobiah and
Sanballat had hired him. Therefore was he hired; that I should be afraid and do so, and
sin, and that they might have matter for an evil report, that they might reproach me (vs.
known of Shemaiah. We may presume from this brief account that he had been a prophet of
the Lord, for Nehemiah seeks the interview with him. However he evidently was not
faithful, since we conclude from his words that he had come under the payroll of Tobiah
and Sanballat. The term shut up is somewhat
ambiguous and may imply that he either was an invalid-a shut-in-or under the restraints of
house arrest. The former seems the more likely.
counsel seems most appropriate. The suggestion was not to spend all of his time in the
temple but merely to sleep there at night when assassination would be a great danger. His
work on the walls need not be hindered. Not only would the temple give sanctuary, but it
would also put Nehemiah in close proximity to the protection of God.
Such a Man as I
Two fallacies in Shemaiah's
proposition caused Nehemiah to see that he was impelled by the conspirators. The first was
the example that would be set. We underrate Nehemiah if we take the expression such a man as I as indicating boastfulness. Rather,
his position as leader of the nation is recognized. If he sought such protection, the
indication of fear on his part would lower the morale of the laborers. He must not show
any inclination to heed the risks, thus setting an example for his co-workers to likewise
despise the dangers.
reason for turning down this offer was even more important. In verse 13 he indicates that
to accept the offer of temple sanctuary would be to
sin. A little background on Nehemiah can help us see how such an act as entering the
temple could be considered a sin.
becoming governor, Nehemiah had been King Cyrus' cupbearer (Neh. 1:11). The office of
cupbearer included supervising all the king's food, for poisoning was a common method of
royal assassination. To ensure that such an one would not be open to sexual temptations,
the custom was to castrate such servants-the eunuchs
made by men to which Jesus refers in Matthew 19:12. Such eunuchs were not admitted
into the temple (Deut. 23:1). Therefore Nehemiah perceived that the suggestion to seek
sanctuary was really to invite his own death sentence by Jewish law.
My God; think thou upon Tobiah and Sanballat
according to these their works, and on the prophetess Noadiah, and the rest of the
prophets, that would have put me in fear (v. 14).
than seek vengeance on those who opposed him, Nehemiah simply turned them over to God for
a proper judgment according to the principle whatsoever
a man soweth, that shall he also reap (Gal. 6:7). The mention of Noadiah and other
prophets shows how well Israel's enemies had penetrated into the city, bribing many of the
Lord's prophets or at least intimidating them with doctrines of fear.
A Quick Work
So the wall was finished in
the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days. And it came to pass,
that when all our enemies heard thereof, and all the heathen that were about us saw these
things, they were much cast down in their own eyes: for they perceived that this work was
wrought of our God (vs. 15, 16).
To build a
fortified wall around a city as large as Jerusalem in less than two months would be a
remarkable feat in the best of times. Doing it under the conditions that Nehemiah
faced-apathy within and animosity without-was even more remarkable.
was two-fold. For the laborers the fruit of their work was a reward in itself and a
tribute to the vision, perseverance, and the organizing genius of Nehemiah. For the
enemies round about it was a sore blow. As the New International Version phrases verse 16, they lost their self-confidence.
who truly perceived that this work was wrought of
our God there was the opportunity of proselytizing to the Jewish faith. The effect of
Nehemiah's faithfulness was similar to the effect of Queen Esther's faithfulness a few
year's hence, when God saved Israel from the conspiracy of Haman.
And in every province, and in every city, whithersoever
the king's commandment and his decree came, the Jews had joy and gladness, a feast and a
good day. And many of the people of the land became Jews; for the fear of the Jews fell
upon them. -Esther 8:17
So it is
with the Christian building his walls of faith; when friends and neighbors see the
accomplishment of God's work despite opposition, more than any words they might speak, the
example of their faith provides a greater witness.
Let your light so shine before men, that they may see
your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. - Matthew 5:16
Moreover in those days the
nobles of Judah sent many letters unto Tobiah, and the letters of Tobiah came unto them.
For there were many in Judah sworn unto him, because he was the son in law of Shechaniah
the son of Arah; and his son Johanan had taken the daughter of Meshullam the son of
Bereehiah. Also they reported his good deeds before me, and uttered my words to him. And
Tobiah sent letters to put me in fear (vs. 17-19).
wall was built and Israel's foes suffered a blow to their
self-confidence, they were far from giving up. Through intermarriage with Shechaniah, one
of the priests of Israel, Tobiah had inroads to many of the nobles of Judah. A letter
campaign spreading rumors went on for some time. However the effect of this endeavor was
greatly minimized by the wallbuilding faith of Nehemiah.
of God's laws prohibiting intermarriage with the people of the land was once again shown.
This same wisdom was given by the Apostle Paul as a rule for marriages among Christians.
The wife is bound by the law as long as her husband
liveth; but if her husband be dead, she is at liberty to be married to whom she will; only
in the Lord.-1 Corinthians 7:39.
this Israelite practice, Ezra called for reform and a putting away of foreign wives. (See
Ezra 9 and 10.) Interestingly, Shechaniah, this same priest, was the first one to come
And Shechaniah the son of Jehiel, one of the sons of
Elam, answered and said unto Ezra, We have trespassed against our God, and have taken
strange wives of the people of the land: yet now there is hope in Israel concerning this
thing. Ezra 10:2
May we be
as quick to acknowledge our individual shortcomings.
to the Christian is equally clear. Our resistance in faith against temptations is a
lifelong work. In the words of the hymn:
Ne'er think the victory won,
Nor once at ease sit down;
Thine arduous work shall not be done
Till thou hast gained thy crown.
Every temptation to leave our work
of building the walls of Zion must be met with the same resolute steadfastness of
Nehemiah: "Will I go to negotiate in the plains of Ono. Oh No! I have a work to do in
finishing the work of the Lord.
Be Strong and of a Good
"Be strong and of a
good courage; for unto this people shalt thou divide for an inheritance the land, which I
sware unto their fathers
to give them."Joshua 1:6
Reprinted from February 1961 HERALD,
article by John Ensoll, England
The dictionary rendering of courage
is bravery, boldness; and of the word strong, powerful. Be thou powerful and very brave is
what the Lord meant.
As the world estimates courage and
strength people go to great lengths to prove their skill and stamina in feats of strength
and enduranceclimbing great heights, crossing oceans alone and in a variety of
different waysbut that is not what the Lord wants of his people. Strength of mind
and moral courage are the qualities to be acquired. True, his ancient people did have to
endure hardness of a physical kind, and as we read the life of Joshua we recall the
unpleasant task he had of smiting and subduing the surrounding nations before he could
possess the land for the children of Israel, but it was a far deeper and more significant
thing that was required of him. As recorded in the last few verses of chapter one, the
children of Israel were willing to accept him if he would keep faith with God and give
them good leadership.
In keeping with this line of thought
let us examine the record of some of the people mentioned in Holy Writ who demonstrated
these virtues in their little span of liferecords that come down to us as examples
of how we should live today.
We recall the very severe trial that
Job had to endure, Wracked with pain, and passing through a time of mental anguish, he was
forced to listen to the arguments of worldly-wise men. His resistance to the admonition
"curse God and die," and his confidence in God in saying, "If he slay me
yet will I trust him," prove that although he was unable to combat their arguments,
his faith was still strong. The whole book of Job is eloquent with the fortitude of this
man of God, showing a picture of the suffering of the whole world of mankind and their
final deliverance and inheritance.
Now let us look at Gideon. Recall
his strength of endurance and courage, and his implicit trust and faith in God when the
numbers were whittled down to three hundred. In Judges, chapter 7, we have a wonderful
picture of the way in which God ordained which should be the ones that would assist Gideon
in the remarkable victory that was his. The seemingly simple test of how they drank the
waters had in the act of being prepared for any emergency. It makes stirring reading even
in these days when we take so much for granted, to refresh our minds as to the way God
dealt with his servant. We read of the culmination of their victory, how they took up
strategic places (one hundred on each of three sides of the Midianites), how they had
lamps in their pitchers, and trumpets in their hands, and at a command from Gideon they
"brake the pitchers and holding the lamps in their left hands and the trumpets in
their right hands to blow withal: they cried, The sword of the Lord, and of Gideon. And
they stood every man in his place round about the camp: and all the host ran, and cried,
and fled."Judges 7:20, 21.
There is a very similar Scripture in
2 Chronicles 20, verse 17, which reads: "Ye shall not need to fight in this battle:
set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and
Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them: for the Lord will be
with you." Surely these passages have a very special meaning for us at the present
Coming to David, we will only take
one example from a life full of incidents. The one that stands out most vividly is the
slaying of the Philistine giant Goliath.
Here was a strapping young lad
obviously in the prime of youth, but even so, no match for such an antagonist. We can well
understand why the Philistine hero should have derided him and poured scorn on those who
sent him. In 1 Samuel 17 we read how King Saul clothed David in his own armor and put a
helmet of brass on his head and armed him with a coat of mail. Lastly he got him to gird
his own sword on his armor.
Needless to say, David felt must
uncomfortable in all this paraphernalia, and of course cast it all off. He then took five
smooth stones from the brook and put them in a bag. And he took the sling that he had used
so many times before when he had protected his fathers sheep from the lions and the
bears. You will also remember the confident words of David when he was face to face with
his adversary. "Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword,
and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the Lord of hosts,
the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied" (v. 45).
What a marvelous example this is for
the Lords people todaythis is the only safe way to meet our Adversary.
Elijah is another example of
tremendous courage and dependency on the Lord. We recall the times he had to go before
Ahab and Jezebel to prophecy before them; and also how he had to flee on more than one
occasion and she sought his life. Just picture his steadfast courage as he stood on Mount
Carmel and defied the priests of Baal. In 1 Kings, chapter 17, we are told of the famine
that had been in the land; of how there had been neither dew nor rain for many years; how
he was succored by the ravens and the widow of Zarephath. And then in the 18th chapter we
come to the wonderful climax, and to the passage where his strong faith was vindicated.
We readily call to mind the
assembling of the great multitude of people, all the children of Israel and more than 800
prophets of Baal and of the groves. How Elijah prepared an altar and had the sacrifice
slain. And after it had been lain on the altar he commanded that they fill four barrels
with water and that it should be poured over the sacrifice so that it run over the wood
even down to the trench that had been dug around the altar. This he repeated so that the
whole thing was thoroughly saturatedand this at a time when there had been no rain
Then crying on the Lord: "Hear
me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the Lord God, and that thou
hast turned their heart back again. Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt
sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones, and the dust, and licked up the water that was in
the trench" (v. 37, 38).
Later Elijah called upon the Lord:
"It is enough, O Lord, take away my life; for I am not better than my fathers.: But
the Lord showed him that he still had work for Elijah to do, that even at that time there
were many thousands that had not bowed the knee to Baal.
Jeremiah had a very unpleasant
mission to perform, nevertheless he carried on, steadfastly determined to follow the
leading of the Lord. He was called at a very early age to the prophetic office and
continued to prophesy for forty-two years. One commentator has said of him: "We find
him sensitive to a most painful degree, timid, shy, hopeless, desponding, constantly
complaining and dissatisfied with the course of events, but never flinching from duty. . .
. Timid in resolve, he was unflinching in execution; as fearless when he had to face the
world and he was dispirited and prone to murmuring when alone with God. Judged by his own
estimate of himself, he was feeble and his mission a failure; really, in the hour of
action and when duty called him, he was in very truth `a defensed city, and an iron
pillar, and brazen walls against the whole land. He was a noble example of the triumph of
the moral over the physical nature."
It is worthwhile noting how he was
called, as recorded in the first chapter of Jeremiah, verses 4-9: "The word of the
Lord came unto me, saying, Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee, and before thou
cames forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet among the
nations. Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child. But the Lord
said unto me, Say not, I am a child: for thou shalt go to all that I send thee, and
whatsoever I command thee thou shalt speak. Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with
thee to deliver thee, saith the Lord. Then the Lord put forth his hand, and touched my
mouth. And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have put my words into thy mouth."
Passing on we come to Daniel and try
to conjure up the scene as he was thrown into the den of lionsan innocent man
wrongfully condemned by jealous menhis feelings of complete trust and confidence in
the Lord and the courage he showed when actually confronted with the ferocious beasts. His
exultant reply when the king went to visit him the next morning: "My God hath sent
his angel, and hath shut the lions mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as
before him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt.
Lessons for Today
How do these reflections affect us?
Are we being strong and very courageous in our present, everyday experiences? Do we trust
sufficiently? Are we bold to come to the throne of heavenly grace to get the necessary
strength to assist us in our trials and difficulties?
Again, let us think for a moment how
we react in times of national and international stress. These upheavals sometimes make us
fearful, and as human beings we shrink from them, but should we not rather look on them as
additional opportunities to prove ourselves. We are instructed to be more than overcomers;
if this is to be true of us we shall need to be equipped with the whole armor of God. We
shall need to be sure that it is securely buckled on, that it is kept bright and shining,
and that there are no cracks anywhere, and particularly, we should keep our eyes ever on
the goal set before us, to the end that we shall be overcomers through Jesus Christ our
What an ennobling thought, that the
great God of the universe has called us to be joint-heirs with his son. That, just as he
dealt with the heroes of faith, whose lives we have briefly touched on foregoing; dealt
with them by fighting their battles, preparing the way for them, cheering, encouraging,
and fortifying them when they lost hope; so does he deal with us if we are willing and
If we are truly his, and his spirit
witnesseth with our spirit that we are the sons of God, then each of us can claim the
promise: In quietness and confidence shall be our strength, while with joy we are able by
the eye of faith to look forward to that wonderful daynot far distantwhen God
shall "make wars to cease even unto the ends of the earth. Be still and know that I
am God; I will be exalted in the earth." (Ps. 46:9, 10)
Righteous Lot --
When Faith Weakens
"And delivered just
Lot, vexed with
the filthy conversation of the wicked."2 Pet. 2:7
Have you ever thought of Lot as a
just or righteous man? Would you be more inclined to call him "bad Lot" or
"weak Lot?" Why would the Apostle Peter use this appellative "just" to
describe a character usually viewed as one who was far less than faithful?
Lot was the nephew of Abraham, being
the son of his older brother, Haran. He was part of the entourage which Terah,
Abrahams father, led out of Ur of the Chaldees northwestward along the Euphrates
river to a place they named Haran, in honor of Terahs oldest son, now dead.
After the death of Terah, Abraham
left Haran for "the promised land," a land which God had indicated he would
inform him of when he was still residing in Ur. This act of Abraham is denoted as one of
the great acts of faith in his life by the Apostle Paul in Heb. 11:8.
"By faith Abraham, when he was
called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed;
and he went out, not knowing whither he went."
If it was faith which prompted
Abraham to leave Haran, was it any less faith on the part of Lot? Some might say that he
was younger, and therefore he had little choice. But his sister, Milcah, was left behind.
He did have a choice. He chose to go with Abraham. Assuredly, this was an act of faith on
Lots part! Yet, he was not singled out for this act of faith as was Abraham. Why?
Because his faith did not continue to grow to maturity.
Arriving in the land of Canaan, both
Abraham and Lot prospered so much that "the land was not able to bear them, that they
might dwell together: for their substance was great." (Gen. 13:6) Strife developed
between their herdsmen. In an amicable discussion, the two decided to part company. Lot
chose the then fertile area around the base of the Dead Sea. Although now a barren area,
it was apparently agriculturally productive before the cataclysm that destroyed the twin
cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
This decision to relocate in the
area of Sodom was not in itself an act unpleasing to God. Given first choice, it was only
logical to select the area with the best prospects for prosperity. However, it did place
Lot in a position of temptation. Prosperity is always tempting, and one of then greatest
antagonists of faith. Where prosperity exists, man feels less and less need for God.
Six Steps to Sin
Following the course of temptation,
the move to Sodom traces his decline in six successive steps.
1. STRIFE. (Gen.
13:7) Disagreements are natural. No two independent people can long live without
differences of opinion, but these disputes need not degenerate into strife. "For
where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work." (Jas. 3:16)
Strife breeds suspicions of the other persons motive and destroys the incentive to
work together. While Jude says that we are "to contend earnestly for the faith"
(Jude 4), he does not say that we are to be contentious for it.
2. BEHOLDING. (Gen.
13:10) Every materialistic act begins with a desire. "Then when lust hath conceived,
it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death."
(Jas.1:15) Modern commercial enterprises spend millions of dollars for the very purpose of
creating just such desire. Stores invest heavily in creating eye appeal. For Mother Eve,
one of the appeals of the "tree of knowledge of good and evil" was that "it
was pleasant to the eyes." (Gen. 3:6) Similarly, one of the strong temptation to the
Christian is "the lust of the eyes." (1 John 2:16)
3. CHOOSING. (Gen.
13:11) Desiring an object in a store window does not mean that we must buy it. Noticing
the fertility of the Jordan valley, Lot could have considered other aspects of his
decision: perhaps he should defer to his older uncle, Abraham; perhaps he should have
taken into consideration the character of his new neighbors, which was already iniquitous.
But Lot carried through with his desires and made a positive decision to make a choice
based solely on materialistic considerations.
4. DWELLING TOWARD SODOM.
(Gen. 13:12) To Lots credit, he did not choose to live in Sodom, with all its
iniquities. Nevertheless, by pitching his tent "toward Sodom" he was inviting
the future temptations which caused him such loss in his later life. In similar vein,
Solomon writes in his love song, "Take us the foxes, the little foxes that spoil the
vines." (Song of Solomon 2:15) It is the little temptations, the small sins, which
sear the conscience, opening the door for the greater sins to follow.
5. LIVING IN SODOM.
(Gen. 14:12) True to this pattern, it is only a short while before we see Lot changing his
residence to within the city. No doubt the conveniences of an urban environment over a
desert tent and the prosperity which enabled him to purchase a home in the city were all
factors in this decision. "Surely," he may have thought, "there can be no
greater danger in living in the city than in dwelling in its environs." But there
was, and it took two great cataclysms to extricate him from his difficulties.
6. SITTING IN THE GATE.
(Gen. 19:1) The position of "sitting in the gate" was reserved for the elders,
or judges, of the city. It denoted a position of prominence and esteem. After experiencing
the wickedness of his Sodomite neighbors, Lot chooses not to leave the city, but to try to
reform it. Numerous compromises would have been required to win the acceptance and
necessary votes to hold such a high office, but a conscience which is seared often chooses
to ignore the dangers of such compromises.
As a result of Lots living in
Sodom, his very life came into danger on two occasions. In one he was taken captive, in
the other he fled to avoid destruction. In the one, the whole city was saved for
Lots sake. In the other, the whole city was destroyed for Lots sake.
The first of these incidents is
recorded in Genesis, chapter 14. Chedarlaomer, king of Elam, had been holding the people
around the Dead Sea as a tribute people. A rebellion finally occurred, in which all the
residents of Sodom, including Lot, were taken captive.
Upon hearing of this, Abraham
garners together his entire household, some 318 men, and sets out on a rescue mission.
Successful, he restores all of Sodoms possessions to the king of Sodom, and Lot to
his home. On the return journey he is met by Melchizedek, king of Salem, and after
partaking of ceremonial bread and wine, gives Melchizedek a tithe, or ten percent, of the
The second tragedy is recorded in
the 19th chapter of Genesis, and this time the attacker of Sodom is God himself, because
of the extreme wickedness of the residents of both Sodom and its sister city, Gomorroh.
After negotiating for its being saved from destruction if 10 righteous people could be
found therein, Abraham leaves the matter in Gods hands. (Gen. 18)
Ten righteous were not found. Only
Lot, his wife and two daughters were sufficiently concerned to flee the city before an
earthquake cause subterranean deposits of sulfur and salt to be forced up through the
resultant fissures. The friction thus caused set the sulfur on fire and, with the
accompanying salt, rained back on the earth. Lots wife, stopping to look longingly
back, became encrusted in the descending salt and was turned into a salty pillar.
How well these two incidents
demonstrate workings of God in our lives. How often our wrong decisions put us in
harms way. How frequently the Lord delivers us from these situations, even though
they may be of our own making. Delivering us, he does not change our lifes
environment. He returns us to our individual Sodoms. The choice is ours, whether to remain
or flee. The time comes, however, when no other choice is left us. It will be "flee,
It is worthy of consideration, in
this regard, to note the counsel of Rev. 18:4, ""And I heard another voice from
heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that
ye receive not of her plagues."
If Israel had not sprinkled their
doorposts with the blood of the lamb on the night of the passover, they, too, would have
suffered the terrible consequences of the last plague on Egyptthe death of their
It is incumbent upon the Christian
to note the consequences of his own actions, to ask the Lord for deliverance and to accept
that salvation. But they must go further. They must repent of their former wrong conduct
and change their future course of action lest, ultimately, they be destroyed with the
Vexation of Soul
"And delivered just Lot, vexed
with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them,
in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful
deeds.)"2 Pet. 2: 7, 8
Peters evaluation of Lot,
despite his history, was that he was "just" and had a "righteous
soul." Noting Lots involvement with the Sodomites, he assures us that this was
vexing to his soul. It is worthy of note that the word translated "vexed" in
verse 7 is very different from the one translated "vexed" in verse 8.
Both the New International Version
and the Revised Version translate verse 7 with the word "distressed." Lot was
distressed with the unrighteous acts of his neighbors. He did not agree with them. He
probably sought his judgeship with a hope of reforming the city, perhaps enacting a more
strict legal code on moral matters.
The word "vexed," however,
in verse 8, comes from the Greek basanizo, a word often translated
"torment:" but which, according to Strongs Concordance, meant literally
"a touch stone." A touch stone was used in gold mining, to assay the gold
content of ore. The ore was rubbed against the stone and, if containing gold, would leave
streaks of gold on the touch stone. Idiomatically, it came to signify a "putting to
the test, an investigation, to assay or assess."
The thought, then, in our text, is
that, being distressed with the unrighteousness surrounding him, Lots soul was put
to the test. How would he react. Would he seek to reform, or would he flee? It was,
indeed, a vexing question.
Entering the Defenced Cities
A parallel to this lesson is found
in Jer. 8:9-22. Here he talks of "wise men" who had "rejected the word of
the Lord." In consequence their wives and fields were given to others. Their response
to the troubles around them was to say, "Peace, peace, where there is no peace."
Like Lot, they compromised with the evil for the sake of maintaining peaceful
The further deterioration in
conditions around them lead them to the decision of Jer. 8:14. "Why do we sit still?
assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent
there: for the LORD our God hath put us to silence, and given us water of gall to drink,
because we have sinned against the LORD."
It was this decision, one that was
just as wrong as Lots decision to remain in Sodom after being rescued by Lot, which
causes these "wise men" to lament in verse 20: "The harvest is past, the
summer is ended, and we are not saved."
Thus, in spite of the deterioration
of Lots faith and his continuing association with the Sodomites. he earns
Peters judgment as "just" and "righteous." But, as the story
shows, being righteous does not necessarily mean being right. His righteousness related to
his heart intents. They were good. He was vexed, distressed, by the wickedness which
surrounded him. But his decisions were not right. Thus he failed of the high commendation
of faith which Paul gave his uncle Abraham.
The judgment of Lot in the
Lords eyes is not given in the Bible. We do well, though, to profit from his
mistakes and not to repeat them. As for his judgment or ours, how comforting are the
Apostles words in 2 Cor. 8:12, "For if there be first a willing mind, it is
accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not."
News & Views
Are you a
member of the Pastoral Bible Institute? Subscribing to the Herald magazine does not mean
that you are a member of the Institute. While the major work of the Institute is to
publish the Herald, other activities occur as well. These activities include printing and
distributing booklets on various biblical topics, sponsoring speaking trips for directors
and editors, and retaining stewardship over the financial assets of the Institute.
Membership in the PBI gives a right to elect directors and to be eligible to serve as a
director or editor. Assuring a continued resource of members who are willing and capable
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considered membership, please do so. It costs only $5.00 - a one-time membership fee. You
can join by sending in your fee and a request for membership to the PBI secretary at the
address listed on the inside front cover. And don't forget to tell a friend about the
Herald. Write for an extra issue to share with a friend.
past year, we have lost subscribers because of no forwarding orders. If you are moving,
please let us know as far in advance as possible. With the new expanded format of the
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post card to the PBI secretary, and it will assure that your Herald will find your new
home along with you!
our directors and editors travel regularly and would like to include visits to classes of
the Lord's people or to the Lord's isolated. Classes are easy to find isolated ones are
not. Check the itineraries of the directors and editors listed on the back cover of each
issue. If you know of someone in an area covered by one of these visits, please write to
Shalom. When the Lord's first and second advents are considered, I am so glad this is the
second and not tile first. Glad some of the tragic history is in the past. Your May/June
Herald featured Israel's 45th anniversary. Haven't we so much to be thankful for. More
history past. In Israel itself, no longer second and third class citizens of other
countries. (Jeremiah 30:8). (Israel) has a government of their own people. Nor do we have
to dread the coming of Zechariah 13:8 (Rotherham). The hunters destroyed two-thirds---six
million of nine million-of European Jewry. Many of us can remember the displaced persons
camps, the frail immigrant ships, the survivors of Hitler being turned to Cyprus. What a
trying time for the survivors.
when Jerusalem was supposed to be under the U.N. jurisdiction, their flag was immediately
the target of Arab snipers. It was blue and white and looked like Israel's! We read of the
battles to free a corridor up to Jerusalem through Arab territory which finally ended in
half the city not being cut off from the rest of Israel. Like the Lord's telegram of
Zechariah 14:1, 2.
we think of Ezekiel 38 and 39, it is the forces of Gog who fall upon the mountains of
A rabbi on
Israeli radio said, "Since Israel was reborn she has experienced one miracle upon
another, fulfillment of the prophetic word. There is no doubt whatsoever that God has
returned to us - now we all must return to God." As Bro. Lanowick would have
remarked, "it is the goodness of God that leads you to repentance" (Romans 2:4).
article contributed on Israel and the Land on
page 19 of the May/June Herald, I found very interesting.
Elaine Myhill, Belleville,
for sending me a copy of the May-June 1993 issue of the Herald. I am pleased that the
group which sponsors the publication is friendly to the State of Israel. [Editor's note: The author of the letter was given
a copy of the Herald issue on Israel.]
the passage on page four in which the author of the first article invokes the metaphor
(from Ezekiel) of dry bones being revived, as being exemplified by the revival of the
State of Israel after centuries of nonexistence. The same article contains, on page 6, the
beautiful passage from Isaiah, "out of Zion shall go forth , the law, and the word of
the Lord from Jerusalem." The author also rightly points out that the
"stiff-necked" people of Israel have not always been admirable in their ways; he
says correctly that many were unfaithful to God.
good point is made in the second article, where the author declares that, whereas the
phrase "decline and fall" applies to many nations, in Israel's case, the proper
phrase is "fall and rise."
article highlights Isaiah's famous expression, "Comfort ye, comfort ye my people,
saith your God." The use of these and other uplifting words of Isaiah in Handel's
oratorio "The Messiah" is very moving. Although I do not adopt the theology of
Handel's oratorio, I have always been spiritually exalted when I hear it.
William Gerber, Washington, D.C.
A GIFT OF LOVE
of Audrey Grant, born Audrey Mabel Charlton July 26, 1917 and died February 3, 1992,
Melbourne Christian Convention was the first one in many, many years not attended by
Audrey. However, it (was) not without some of her thoughts written in the 1930s while
living in the Canberra area. The spirit of her gift of love remains with us.
is an excerpt from the pamphlet Audrey distributed
I had the
blessed privilege of one day visiting the wisest man in all the earth. Craggy mountains,
deep gullies, dangerous ravines and tearing rapids shut him out from the majority of
mankind; but once having the courage to pass these, the way to his dwelling lay through
pleasant woods, gaily carpeted with multitudes of highland flowers, and the blue vault of
heaven above, peeping through the leafy branches. There are many stories to tell of this
adventure. The character of my host was exemplary, being most accomplished in all manner
of pursuits, including even the culinary arts. He kindly lent me his recipe book, that I
might see for myself what ingredients he used to obtain the results I so much admired.
"There is one recipe of which I am particularly fond," he said to me as I turned
the pages. "Read it with care, for oft partaken it keeps us healthy and gives us
strength." And this is what I found:
clean your dish thoroughly, inside and out, then place it in the oven called Zeal to
become thoroughly heated.
one cupful of the flour of Patience as the base, and with the fingers gently rub in two
tablespoonsful of Determination's butter. Add a shake of salt from the container Courage,
a handful of Gentleness, well pounded, and moisten with oil gathered from the herb
ingredients are thoroughly mixed, turn them out and roll with Self-negation, place around
your dish and trim the edges with your knife of Perception.
filling, mix seven spoonsful of Sweet Temper with three of the golden sugar of Silence,
and mix with a sufficient quantity of Milk of the Word.
Humble Pie will be found most easy of digestion if made according to the above recipe, and
will be of inestimable value to those who make it part of their daily diet.
John Arthur Grant, Collingwood
BIBLE STUDENT ACTIVITIES
A recent witness effort took place in Cape May,
New Jersey, where there was a denominational gathering of churches (see Editor's Journal, May/June, 1993) aimed at
promoting unity. Several Bible Student classes in the area ran newspaper advertisements,
put up posters, and placed booklets in local hotels. The witness effort offered a new
booklet printed in Chicago called One World Church? This
booklet presents the biblical view of the church and discusses the prophecies regarding
the confederation of churches and the subsequent fall of Christendom at the end of the
current age. A preliminary report indicated that several dozen booklets were
distributed. Copies of the booklet may be requested through the Institute secretary. These
booklets are printed by the Chicago Bible Students.
Presbyterian Church has taken a step toward uniting with eight other Protestant
denominations. Under the plan, approved during a meeting in Orlando, Florida, in June,
the churches would keep their own denominational structures and ordination process, but
would share their services and ordination ceremonies. David Taylor, general secretary of
the meeting, said "There is nothing of merger in this proposal, but everything of
removing old barriers. This is an attempt to begin to repair that 450-year-old
schism." (Dating back to the Reformation.)
Press, June, 1993)
A study of
the pattern of donations in 31 Protestant denominations shows that people are giving fewer
dollars for use by their denominations at large. Sylvia Ronsvalle, executive vice
president of Empty Tomb Inc., the nonprofit Christian research organization that is
conducting the ongoing study, said, "Our data point in the direction of the
extinction of support for denominational structures in the middle of the next
century." The study said that many church-goers prefer to restrict their gifts for
specific purposes such as supporting missionaries or youth choirs. As a result of the
diminished contributions to the denominations, many have had to severely trim budgets for
are losing confidence in the churches. A 1993 Poll conducted by George Gallup, Jr. found
that only 29 percent of Americans said they have a great deal of confidence in religious
institutions. Only 53 percent gave good marks to the church over other institutions. In
a 1983 poll, 62 percent of Americans favored the church over all other institutions.
Religion Research Center)
are gaining at the expense of Catholics. In Brazil, for example, about 30 million
Brazilians, 20 percent of the population, are Protestants; in 1960 the figure was about 4
percent. In 1960, 93 percent of Brazilians said they were Catholic, while today, 72.5
percent hold Catholic beliefs. That trend exists throughout Latin America, where the
Protestant population has tripled to about 12 percent in the past 30 years. The growth
is attributed to the increase in Pentecostals evangelizing throughout Latin America. News
reports cite faith cures and exorcisms as commonplace.
York Times, 7/4/93)
Supreme Court ruled on June 11 to strike down a law in Hialeah, Florida, prohibiting
animal sacrifice. In striking down the statute as violating the constitutional right to
free exercise of religion, this excerpt from the decision; written by Justice Kennedy, was
published on June 12: "The case involves practices of the Santeria religion, which
originated in the 19th century. When hundreds of thousands of members of the Yoruba
people were brought as slaves from eastern Africa to Cuba, their traditional African
religion absorbed significant elements of Roman Catholicism. The resulting syncretion,
or fusion, is Santeria, `the way of the saints.' The Cuban Yoruba express their devotion
to spirits, called orishas, through the iconography of Catholic saints. Catholic symbols
are often present at Santeria rites, and Santeria devotees attend the Catholic sacraments.
The Santeria faith teaches that every individual has a destiny from God, a destiny
fulfilled with the aid and energy of the orishas . . . and one of the principal forms of
devotion is an animal sacrifice . . . The sacrifice of animals as part of religious
rituals has ancient roots. Animal sacrifice is mentioned throughout the Old Testament
and it played an important role in the practice of Judaism . . . " The decision went
on to say that "although the practice of animal sacrifice may seem abhorrent to some,
religious beliefs need not be acceptable, logical, consistent, or comprehensible to others
in order to merit First Amendment protection."
[Editor's Note: Interpreters of Ezekiel 38 have
speculated that during Jacob's Trouble, those that descend on Israel to "take a
spoil" may be doing so to tap into Israel's brain power in dealing with natural
resource crises. It is interesting that Israeli scientists have found what may be the
answer to the middle East's most severe problem: water.]
tower is the serious proposal of a team of Israeli scientists, engineers, and architects
who believe they have found a cheap method of generating electricity. Located in the Negev
desert near the Red Sea, the station would rise 3,300 feet-twice the height of the World
Trade Center in New York City. The tower would draw waster from the Red Sea and produce up
to 80 billion kilowatt-hours of electric energy a year at one-fifth the cost of generating
electricity today in the U.S. In some versions, the tower could also desalt sea water,
providing cheap water for desert farming. The fund-raising arm, Technion, is already
putting together a group of U.S. companies to sponsor the construction of the tower. A.
former water commissioner of Israel, Dr. Dan Zaslavsky, has proposed agreeing with Jordan
to dig a canal from the Red Sea to the Dead Sea and placing a wind tower generator at each
end of the canal to produce all the electrical needs of both countries.
York Times, 6/19/93)
group, Compassion in Dying, has been formed to help the terminally ill commit suicide. It
is the nation's first organization which will provide professional help such as doctors,
nurses and members of the clergy to offer "counseling, emotional support and their
time to be present at the time of death." The group organizers said that the
terminally ill should have a right to a humane death. Ralph Mero, a Unitarian, said that
"There's nothing in the Bible that says terminally ill people who are suffering
should not commit suicide."
Out of Control: Global Turmoil on the Eve of the 21st
Century by Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security advisor, is a book that
should interest all students of prophecy. Mr. Brzezinski presents a provocative viewpoint
of today's post-Cold War world, worrying that the former communist societies will fail to
achieve the material success they want and turn to new doctrines of hate out of
frustration. He sees global inequality amongst occupants as far more threatening and
worrisome than the prospect of economic rivalry amongst nations.
identifies a "permissive cornucopia" in Western democracies, particularly the
U.S., that place the desires of the individual above the greater social good or
distinctions of right and wrong based on religion and morality. Mr. Brzezinski presents 20
dilemmas that must be solved or America is "threatened by dissolution" or
guerilla warfare. These dilemmas range from low savings rates to moral corruption
propagated by mass media.
newly-formed countries Mr. Brzezinski identifies a "whirlpool of violence" (such
as the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia). He sees an uprising of the billions of the world's
poor that live in the Far East as a major threat to stability in emerging powers such as
(240 pages) book will surely make one reconsider thoughts of a more peaceful, more stable
world now that the great Russian threat is gone. Mr. Brzezinski presents a picture of a
more unstable world, no longer driven by the ideology of two great powers, but now driven
by the desires and whims of the masses. For those Bible students who believe that Joel 2
and 3 suggests an uprising of the world's masses to form "The Lord's Great Army"
will result in anarchy, this should provide speculative support. The book is published by