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The following video was made in 2014, but I saw it for the first time last week.

Leonora Hamill filmed this stag, named Chambord, in the Church of Saint-Eustache in Paris, which held Easter Day services for the parishioners of Notre-Dame Cathedral, which was devastated by fire during Holy Week on April 15, 2019.

Look how beautifully the stag blends into its surroundings:

It has a respectful look round the altar before leaving.

This is a sublime blending of God’s creation and His gift of aesthetics to mankind.

Some who have seen it recall the pagan deer deity Cernunnos, but, according to the YouTube comments, Ms Hamill filmed it to promote the Church of Saint-Eustache, located near Les Halles in the French capital. It is a church, by the way, and not a cathedral.

It is no coincidence that she chose a deer, as Saint Eustache — or Eustace, in English — was a Roman general named Placidus who saw a vision of a crucifix between a deer’s antlers. This was in the second century AD.

Upon seeing the vision of the deer with the crucifix between his antlers, Placidus changed his name to Eustace, which means ‘upstanding’ and ‘steadfast’.

Eustace wasted no time in converting his family and all were baptised.

Then, they underwent a series of dramatic trials of faith that were reminiscent of Job’s. According to Wikipedia (emphases mine):

A series of calamities followed to test his faith: his wealth was stolen; his servants died of a plague; when the family took a sea-voyage, the ship’s captain kidnapped Eustace’s wife Theopista; and as Eustace crossed a river with his two sons Agapius and Theopistus, the children were taken away by a wolf and a lion. Like Job, Eustace lamented but did not lose his faith.

Although God restored his social standing and reunited him with his family, he died as a martyr for the faith in 118, when he refused to offer a pagan sacrifice:

There is a tradition that when he demonstrated his new faith by refusing to make a pagan sacrifice, the emperor Hadrian condemned Eustace, his wife, and his sons to be roasted to death inside a bronze statue of a bull or an ox,[5] in the year AD 118.

He was part of the General Roman Calendar of saints until 1970, when he was removed from the list, presumably because his life’s story could not be fully authenticated.

Nonetheless, after his death he was venerated in many countries across Europe. He still is today in several of them and, fortunately, remains listed in the Roman Martyrology.

St Eustace is one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers, as is St Blaise. The list of the Fourteen Holy Helpers was devised in Germany during the Black Death in the 14th century. People sought their intercession in times of need. St Eustace was the healer of family troubles. The Catholic Church unceremoniously dumped several of the individual feasts of the Fourteen Holy Helpers in 1969, although Catherine of Alexandria’s optional feast day of November 25 was reinstated in 2004, possibly because Joan of Arc was said to have heard the saint’s voice.

Other individual feasts days of the Fourteen Holy Helpers were dropped, such as those of Saints Christopher, Barbara and Margaret of Antioch.

Back now to Eustace, who is also the patron saint of hunters, firefighters and anyone facing adversity. His feast day is September 20.

There was another saint who had a similar vision of a deer. His name was Hubertus, or Hubert. He lived near Liège and was the eldest son of Bertrand, the Duke of Aquitaine. Hubert was born in 656. Although he was an agreeable character, he loved hunting. He loved it so much that, one Good Friday morning, while everyone went to church, he went hunting.

According to the legend, recounted by Wikipedia:

As he was pursuing a magnificent stag or hart, the animal turned and, as the pious legend narrates, he was astounded at perceiving a crucifix standing between its antlers, while he heard a voice saying: “Hubert, unless thou turnest to the Lord, and leadest an holy life, thou shalt quickly go down into hell”. Hubert dismounted, prostrated himself and said, “Lord, what wouldst Thou have me do?” He received the answer, “Go and seek Lambert, and he will instruct you.”

Lambert was the Bishop of Maastricht at the time. Lambert was later canonised, as was Hubert.

Lambert became Hubert’s spiritual director, and the young nobleman renounced his title, gave his worldly goods to the poor, studied for ordination and made his younger brother Odo guardian of his infant son Floribert.

Sadly, Lambert was assassinated and died as a martyr. Hubert brought his mentor’s remains to Liège in great ecclesiastical pomp and circumstance.

One could say that Hubert put Liège on the world map. It was only a small village when he had Lambert’s remains brought there. Not long afterwards, it grew in prominence. Today, it is a renowned city. St Lambert is its patron and St Hubert is considered its founder and was its first bishop.

St Hubert’s feast day is May 30. He died on that day in 727 or 728.

His legacy, in addition to increasing Liège’s prominence, involves God. Hubert evangelised passionately to the pagans of the Ardennes region at the time. He also developed a set of ethics for hunting animals humanely, standards which are still used today among French huntsmen, who venerate him annually during a special ceremony.

His feast day is November 3. He is one of the Four Holy Marshals, another group of saints that also was venerated in the Rhineland. He is the patron saint of those involved in hunting as well as forest workers, trappers, mathematicans, metal workers and smelters. A few ancient chivalrous orders also bear his name.

In closing, those familiar with the German digestif Jägermeister should know that the drink’s logo refers to Eustace and Hubert’s respective visions:

I wonder if that label has ever converted anyone. It would be nice to think so.

Bible read me 2The three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Hebrews 5:11-14

Warning Against Apostasy

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

———————————————————————————————————————-

Last week’s reading was the end of the discourse by the unknown author of Hebrews on Psalm 95’s exhortation to not harden one’s heart against God’s voice.

The author then begins a discourse on Jesus as the Great High Priest, which continues into Hebrews 5. The following is in two Year B readings in the three-year Lectionary. Note how the author emphasises that Jesus Christ was called by God the Father to be our Great High Priest, just as Melchizedek was (emphases mine):

For every high priest chosen from among men is appointed to act on behalf of men in relation to God, to offer gifts and sacrifices for sins. 2 He can deal gently with the ignorant and wayward, since he himself is beset with weakness. Because of this he is obligated to offer sacrifice for his own sins just as he does for those of the people. And no one takes this honor for himself, but only when called by God, just as Aaron was.

So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,

“You are my Son,
    today I have begotten you”;

as he says also in another place,

“You are a priest forever,
    after the order of Melchizedek.”

In the days of his flesh, Jesus[a] offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence. Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him, 10 being designated by God a high priest after the order of Melchizedek.

Then the author breaks off to reprove the Hebrews. He wants to continue his discourse on the comparison between Jesus and Melchizedek but says he cannot do so because the Hebrews have dulled their hearing towards what they have learned (verse 11). They stopped taking in the lessons of Scripture, which require acting on said instruction by faith.

Matthew Henry’s commentary explains:

Dull hearers make the preaching of the gospel a difficult thing, and even many who have some faith are but dull hearers, dull of understanding and slow to believe; the understanding is weak, and does not apprehend these spiritual things; the memory is weak, and does not retain them.

Eventually, this becomes sinful behaviour — a wilful rejection of Scripture, Christ and, by extension, God the Father:

He insists upon the faultiness of this infirmity of theirs. It was not a mere natural infirmity, but it was a sinful infirmity, and more in them than others, by reason of the singular advantages they had enjoyed for improving in the knowledge of Christ

He further chides them by saying that, at this point, they should be teaching about Jesus as the Messiah. Instead, they need to go back to the beginning and relearn what they have forgotten. They need milk again, just as a baby does (verse 12).

He goes on to say that someone who needs milk is a child, and a child lacks the knowledge and the wherewithal to function independently (verse 13).

The author concludes by saying only an adult can handle solid food, and so it is with the spiritually mature, who sharpen their discernment, ‘trained by constant practice’ (verse 14).

Henry says that we Christians have the same — if not more — responsibility to develop spiritually:

1. What proficiency might have been reasonably expected from these Hebrews–that they might have been so well instructed in the doctrine of the gospel as to have been teachers of others. Hence learn, (1.) God takes notice of the time and helps we have for gaining scripture-knowledge. (2.) From those to whom much is given much is expected. (3.) Those who have a good understanding in the gospel should be teachers of other, if not in a public, yet in a private station. (4.) None should take upon them to be teachers of others, but those who have made a good improvement in spiritual knowledge themselves.

2. Observe the sad disappointment of those just expectations: You have need that one should teach you again, &c. Here note, (1.) In the oracles of God there are some first principles, plain to be understood and necessary to be learned. (2.) There are also deep and sublime mysteries, which those should search into who have learned the first principles, that so they may stand complete in the whole will of God. (3.) Some persons, instead of going forward in Christian knowledge, forget the very first principles that they had learned long ago; and indeed those that are not improving under the means of grace will be losing. (4.) It is a sin and shame for persons that are men for their age and standing in the church to be children and babes in understanding.

Whilst it is essential to know the basic doctrine that studying the Bible affords, we then need to go to the next stage and begin to understand the holy mysteries. We also need to deepen our relationship with Christ by acting upon what we read and hear in Scripture:

Observe, (1.) There have been always in the Christian state children, young men, and fathers. (2.) Every true Christian, having received a principle of spiritual life from God, stands in need of nourishment to preserve that life. (3.) The word of God is food and nourishment to the life of grace: As new-born babes desire the sincere milk of the word that you may grow thereby. (4.) It is the wisdom of ministers rightly to divide the word of truth, and to give to every one his portion–milk to babes, and strong meat to those of full age. (5.) There are spiritual senses as well as those that are natural. There is a spiritual eye, a spiritual appetite, a spiritual taste; the soul has its sensations as well as the body; these are much depraved and lost by sin, but they are recovered by grace. (6.) It is by use and exercise that these senses are improved, made more quick and strong to taste the sweetness of what is good and true, and the bitterness of what is false and evil. Not only reason and faith, but spiritual sense, will teach men to distinguish between what is pleasing and what is provoking to God, between what is helpful and what is hurtful to our own souls.

To those who say, ‘I read the Bible once. I’ve done that’, I say, ‘Keep reading it’. A Bible scholar makes a lifetime vocation out of studying Scripture. There are new insights for us to discover every time we open the Good Book, as it used to be known not so long ago.

John MacArthur gives us a good analysis of this principle and how it relates to the Hebrews. We would do well to note this, too:

There are those who have come up, and they have all the information. They have all the facts, but they’ve never committed their lives to Jesus ChristAnd so there are really these two groups in view, and then in third distant view in the writing of Hebrews is a group of uncommitted Jews who are just being exposed to the new covenant altogether. So the theme of Hebrews is the superiority of Christianity over Judaism. To the saved Jews, he is saying, “You’ve done the right thing. You don’t need to go back. You don’t need any of the trappings.” To the intellectually convinced Jews who have not received Christ, he is saying, “Come on. Don’t stand there in neglect. Don’t let yourself get hard. Come on and receive Jesus Christ. Come all the way to salvation. Don’t just…don’t just get up to the edge and think it’s right and believe it. Commit yourself to it.” And to the third group, he’s simply sharing with them the facts of the new covenant, that they might be exposed to the truth. Now, as we study Hebrews from chapter to chapter, from passage to passage, from text to text, we must keep this in mind, that it is a contrast between Christianity and Judaism, or we will fall into error in our interpretation. We find that the Biblical writers, if we study the books carefully, have a basic idea. Remember in John, we saw that everywhere Jesus was presented as God, that was John’s point; and you could look at any passage; and you could see, now, what in here is John trying to say concerning the deity of Christ. As we come to this passage, we will say the same thing. What is it that the writer of Hebrews is saying regarding the superiority of Christianity over Judaism? That’s the issue all the way through the Book of Hebrews. This is the key that unlocks every section of Hebrews, and to use any other key is forced entry. Now mark this in your minds. The Holy Spirit is not contrasting two kinds of Christianity in Hebrews. He is contrasting Judaism to Christianity. He is not contrasting an immature Christian with a mature Christian. He is contrasting an unsaved Jew in Judaism with a redeemed Jew in the new covenant. That’s the basic principle of hermeneutics. He is contrasting the substance against the shadow, the pattern against the reality, the visible against the invisible, the facsimile against the genuine, the type against the anti-type, the picture against the actual. And if you’ve been here in any of our studies, you know that the Old Testament are all pictures and types of what is fulfilled in Christ in the New Testament; and all the way through Hebrews, this is the contrast that is made, and this is the only basic hermeneutic…that word means principle of interpretation…that you need in Hebrews to see an overview. So the contrasts are between Christianity and Judaism.

There is also a deeper principle here of divine judgement in the afterlife for falling away or not committing:

… periodically through the book, he gives very pointed warnings to those who’ve come all the way up in intellectual belief and never committed themselves. In the first warning, for example, he simply said, “How shall we escape if we…what?…neglect so great salvation?” If you don’t come, you’re not gonna escape judgment. And then he said in the second warning, which was in chapter 3, he said, “Don’t harden your hearts. You’ve come all the way up there. Now don’t stop there and get a hard heart and depart from the living God with an evil heart of unbelief. You’ve come this far, come on all the way.” So he’s speaking to the intellectually convinced Jews. Now, I believe there is no reason in the world to assume that the third warning won’t follow the very same pattern as all the others. The beginning in chapter 5 verse 11, he is again speaking to the same group of individuals, only this time he is saying, “You better grow up to the mature truths of the new covenant. You better not fool around any longer with the ABCs of the old covenant, for you are in danger…verse 4 of chapter 6… of falling away after you’ve once been enlightened; and, if you do that, you can be lost eternally. Don’t do that. You’ve come all the way up.”

We haven’t got to Hebrews 6 yet, but the theme of spiritual maturity in Jesus Christ will continue:

In 5:11 through 6:3, the Holy Spirit says, “Grow up from the…the ABCs of Judaism, and come all the way to maturity. Leave the milk of the Old Testament. Come to the solid food of the new covenant. Come to Christ. Leave Judaism.” That’s exactly what he’s saying. Then in 6:4, he says, “If you don’t, you’re in serious danger of coming all the way up, hearing all of the truth, then falling away, and being lost forever.” Because, my friends, if a man hears all the truth of Jesus Christ, considers it carefully, and walks away, he’s hopeless. What else can God do once he’s known the truth?

MacArthur says the malaise of dull hearing can affect clerics, too:

I’ve met liberal theologians who knew the Scriptures. They knew where everything was located. They knew the theology of Paul in and out. That…I’ve read books from one end to the other teaching the doctrines that Paul taught, and, yet, those men who write those books have no relationship with Jesus Christ whatever. For the time and study, they oughta be teachers of the Word of God. They don’t even know Jesus Christ; and you heard an illustration night after night last week of people who’ve got all kinds of Bible verses, who’ve heard all kinds of truth, who’ve read it over and over again, but haven’t got the faintest idea what it all means. For the time, they oughta be teachers, but they don’t even know the truth themselves…

He gives us other Christian examples of dull hearing. The first one, involving a 14-year-old pastor’s daughter, is particularly sad. It took place in 1972:

I had an illustration of this. This is earlier this week. I spoke at a convention up in the Oakland area, the Christian Missionary Alliance Churches for the United States, their conference. After speaking to the young people on one occasion in the afternoon, a young girl came up to me and sat on the steps of this huge auditorium. She said to me, she said…I had talked about a Christian, the Christian young person’s relationship to another Christian young person in terms of choosing the right life partner and sex and all of these things; and, after I got done, she came up, and she said, “Well, my boyfriend says whatever you do is all right. He said, ‘Sex is like baseball, and the whole object is to make a home run.'”…That’s what she said.

I said, “Well, that’s interesting. How old’s your boyfriend?” “Twenty-one.” “How old are you?” “Fourteen.” Oh, uh-huh. Well, lemme tell you about your boyfriend. She said, after that opening statement, I said…I explained to her what God thought of that attitude. She said she was…dropped her head, and she said, “I know that,” and she said, “You know what I need?” she said, “I need to be saved.” So we sat down on the steps of this huge auditorium while all these people were coming in, and I said to her, “Well,” I said, “been raised in the church?” Said, “Yes, my father’s a pastor.” I said, “All your life he’s been the pastor?” “Yes.” I said, “Then you know how to be saved, don’t you?” She said, “No.” I said, “Does he ever preach on how to be saved?” She says, “Yeah, but I don’t understand any of it.”

Now there was a perfect illustration of spiritual sluggishness. A person who, for so long had rejected Jesus Christ, even to the time she was 14 years old, that the Gospel was so foggy, she couldn’t even understand it anymore; and so I sat there; and I carefully delineated what the Gospel was; and right there on the steps we were praying together as all these people came in, and she invited Jesus Christ into her life. She said, “All that I can remember is my father’s boring sermons… that made no sense.” And I’m sure that would break her father’s heart to hear her say that; and, yet, because of constant rejection, she became totally indifferent.

I had another person say to me this very week, “I don’t know what I believe or if I believe anymore.” You ever heard anybody talk like that? Sure you have. You get into a state where it’s all kind of a bunch of gop, and you can’t discern it anymore. That’s exactly what’s happened here. I can’t teach you the sharp, clear truths to take you from Judaism to the new covenant, because you’re too spiritually stupid. You’ve been standing there rejecting it so long, you’re getting thick. Thick, thick, thick

That is not a good place to be, whether at age 14 or 50. The Jewish hierarchy of Christ’s time suffered from the same spiritual malaise:

Maturity comes through exercise, being alert, being aware, using your thinking processes, not being sluggish, indifferent, neglecting, and hard in your hearts. Jesus said to the Jews in John 5:39, “I’ll tell you what you do. You go and search the Scriptures. For in there, you’ll find out about me. Get your senses sharp. Go to the Word of God and find the answers.” They were babes by neglect of what they knew. Spiritual stupidity is the issue at this point

In next week’s reading, the author begins giving his audience spiritual milk by going back to the basics.

Next time — Hebrews 6:1-8

What follows are the readings for the Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity — the Sixteenth Sunday after Pentecost — September 29, 2019.

These are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two choices for the First Reading and Psalm. I have differentiated these by using blue in the headings for the alternative option.

Emphases below are mine.

First reading

Readings from Jeremiah continue. The Lord intervenes for Jeremiah via the prophet’s cousin. Although judgement would fall, it would not be permanent.

Jeremiah 32:1-3a, 6-15

32:1 The word that came to Jeremiah from the LORD in the tenth year of King Zedekiah of Judah, which was the eighteenth year of Nebuchadrezzar.

32:2 At that time the army of the king of Babylon was besieging Jerusalem, and the prophet Jeremiah was confined in the court of the guard that was in the palace of the king of Judah,

32:3a where King Zedekiah of Judah had confined him.

32:6 Jeremiah said, The word of the LORD came to me:

32:7 Hanamel son of your uncle Shallum is going to come to you and say, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth, for the right of redemption by purchase is yours.”

32:8 Then my cousin Hanamel came to me in the court of the guard, in accordance with the word of the LORD, and said to me, “Buy my field that is at Anathoth in the land of Benjamin, for the right of possession and redemption is yours; buy it for yourself.” Then I knew that this was the word of the LORD.

32:9 And I bought the field at Anathoth from my cousin Hanamel, and weighed out the money to him, seventeen shekels of silver.

32:10 I signed the deed, sealed it, got witnesses, and weighed the money on scales.

32:11 Then I took the sealed deed of purchase, containing the terms and conditions, and the open copy;

32:12 and I gave the deed of purchase to Baruch son of Neriah son of Mahseiah, in the presence of my cousin Hanamel, in the presence of the witnesses who signed the deed of purchase, and in the presence of all the Judeans who were sitting in the court of the guard.

32:13 In their presence I charged Baruch, saying,

32:14 Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Take these deeds, both this sealed deed of purchase and this open deed, and put them in an earthenware jar, in order that they may last for a long time.

32:15 For thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel: Houses and fields and vineyards shall again be bought in this land.

Psalm

This beautiful Psalm reflects the mercy and protection God gives to His faithful.

Psalm 91:1-6, 14-16

91:1 You who live in the shelter of the Most High, who abide in the shadow of the Almighty,

91:2 will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress; my God, in whom I trust.”

91:3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence;

91:4 he will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.

91:5 You will not fear the terror of the night, or the arrow that flies by day,

91:6 or the pestilence that stalks in darkness, or the destruction that wastes at noonday.

91:14 Those who love me, I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.

91:15 When they call to me, I will answer them; I will be with them in trouble, I will rescue them and honor them.

91:16 With long life I will satisfy them, and show them my salvation.

First reading – alternate

Readings from Amos continue. Here the prophet warns that those who blithely ignore warnings of the judgement to come will have a rude awakening indeed.

Amos 6:1a, 4-7

6:1a Alas for those who are at ease in Zion, and for those who feel secure on Mount Samaria.

6:4 Alas for those who lie on beds of ivory, and lounge on their couches, and eat lambs from the flock, and calves from the stall;

6:5 who sing idle songs to the sound of the harp, and like David improvise on instruments of music;

6:6 who drink wine from bowls, and anoint themselves with the finest oils, but are not grieved over the ruin of Joseph!

6:7 Therefore they shall now be the first to go into exile, and the revelry of the loungers shall pass away.

Psalm – alternate

This Psalm has one of my favourite verses. We can trust only God, not mankind, in this life.

Psalm 146

146:1 Praise the LORD! Praise the LORD, O my soul!

146:2 I will praise the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

146:3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

146:4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

146:5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God,

146:6 who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps faith forever;

146:7 who executes justice for the oppressed; who gives food to the hungry. The LORD sets the prisoners free;

146:8 the LORD opens the eyes of the blind. The LORD lifts up those who are bowed down; the LORD loves the righteous.

146:9 The LORD watches over the strangers; he upholds the orphan and the widow, but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.

146:10 The LORD will reign forever, your God, O Zion, for all generations. Praise the LORD!

Epistle

Paul writes to young Timothy about his ministry. Note the context surrounding verse 10.

1 Timothy 6:6-19

6:6 Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment;

6:7 for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it;

6:8 but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these.

6:9 But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.

6:10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.

6:11 But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness.

6:12 Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

6:13 In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you

6:14 to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

6:15 which he will bring about at the right time–he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords.

6:16 It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.

6:17 As for those who in the present age are rich, command them not to be haughty, or to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but rather on God who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.

6:18 They are to do good, to be rich in good works, generous, and ready to share,

6:19 thus storing up for themselves the treasure of a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of the life that really is life.

Gospel

The parable of Dives (i.e. ‘rich man’) and Lazarus is unique to Luke’s Gospel. The Lazarus here is not Mary and Martha’s brother from Bethany, incidentally. The feast day of this Lazarus is June 21 and that of Lazarus of Bethany is December 17.

Luke 16:19-31

16:19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.

16:20 And at his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores,

16:21 who longed to satisfy his hunger with what fell from the rich man’s table; even the dogs would come and lick his sores.

16:22 The poor man died and was carried away by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried.

16:23 In Hades, where he was being tormented, he looked up and saw Abraham far away with Lazarus by his side.

16:24 He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am in agony in these flames.’

16:25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your lifetime you received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner evil things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in agony.

16:26 Besides all this, between you and us a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who might want to pass from here to you cannot do so, and no one can cross from there to us.’

16:27 He said, ‘Then, father, I beg you to send him to my father’s house–

16:28 for I have five brothers–that he may warn them, so that they will not also come into this place of torment.’

16:29 Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; they should listen to them.’

16:30 He said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’

16:31 He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'”

How true!

Pray for those who mock Scripture; may they come to believe it or suffer eternal judgement.

Welcome to another bumper edition of Brexit Chronicles.

On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, Britain’s Supreme Court — formerly known as the Law Lords — decided that Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s prorogation of Parliament was unlawful and that MPs should return to the House of Commons on Wednesday.

They did not say that Boris Johnson personally broke the law in this regard, only that the prorogation was unlawful.

That said, this appears to be the first time a court of law has ruled against a prorogation, a fairly common occurrence throughout the history of the House of Commons. This legal decision on prorogation sets a potentially dangerous precedent, although I would be happy to scrap the Labour-instituted Supreme Court and see a return to the Law Lords. Pictured below are the Attorney General Geoffrey Cox and Baroness Hale:

Baroness Hale, speaking for the Supreme Court, wore a large spider brooch when she read out the decision. Hmm. A spider brooch about the size of a tarantula. Optics, anyone?

She also erred on one of the names in her statement, as Conservative MP John Redwood points out:

Unfortunately, that detail is unlikely to render the decision invalid.

At the time the Supreme Court reached its decision, the Labour Party conference was going on at the time in Brighton.

Before recapping this week’s events, in 2016, thousands of British barristers signed a letter imploring MPs not to enact the result of the referendum. This I did not know:

Now back to the present day.

Be advised of occasional foul language below!

Thwarting Brexit

Leave voters across the country can see what opposition MPs are doing. I reckon more and more voters are tuning in to BBC Parliament to watch proceedings.

Even renowned historian David Starkey has been vocal about stubborn Remain MPs refusing to fulfil the Leave result:

The danger is that if we adopt the Customs Union proposals that Remainers want, we will have far less control over our own trade, currency, armed forces and laws than we did as a full member of the EU before MPs voted to trigger Article 50 (emphases mine):

It’s all been a set up from the very beginning. The UK was only ever half in but after this, if we don’t leave 31/10 they’ll make sure we’re all the way in it right up to our necks. Full implementation of the Lisbon Treaty. Euro and all!

The Liberal Democrats, led by Jo Swinson, wrote to the EU Commission about Brexit, when only the government in power — currently Conservative — should be dealing directly with them. This was brought up in Wednesday’s Commons session, by the way, so it is true:

The move has not gone down well with some voters:

Note the petition:

Labour Party conference

The Labour Party produced a laundry list of far left policies to discuss at their conference in Brighton.

A teenage vote would keep a left-wing government in power forever. Reason No. 1 not to vote for Labour:

A trade unionist says other policies will be difficult to explain to voters:

Re the abolition of private schools: who is going to pay for the chaos this would cause? The taxpayer. Here’s Diane Abbott, who sent her own son to the private City of London day school:

This would devastate towns where there are private — including what the British call ‘public’ (e.g. Eton, Harrow, Rugby) — schools. Angela Rayner is the shadow education minister. Her name comes up in the second tweet:

Then there was Labour’s protest for a People’s Vote on EU membership. Erm … we had one on June 23, 2016. It was the referendum.

Emily Thornberry loathes England, by the way:

Labour MPs voted twice before the prorogation to oppose a general election, by the way. A general election is also a people’s vote:

Conservative MP James Cleverly, party chairman, has a good, concise summary of Labour’s policies — including their refusal to vote for a general election, when they’ve asked 35 times for one in Parliament. The video is subtitled:

This is what happened at conference. Diane Abbott makes it look as if Boris Johnson never tabled his two motions for a general election before prorogation.

Dishonest Labour — the perfect party for lo-fo voters and a clear danger to the nation:

I hope Labour never again see power during my lifetime. Thirteen years of them (1997-2010) was almost more than I could bear.

Despite the Labour Party conference, which normally produces a positive bounce in the polls, the Conservatives are still ahead. Why hasn’t Britain Elects updated their party leaders photo?

People also want a general election:

Brexit negotiations difficult

The Benn-Burt bill, which received royal assent on September 9 and forces the PM to ask the EU for an extension if there is no deal, has made the Prime Minister’s and the government’s Brexit negotiations very difficult. This was the status on September 21:

Nevertheless, Boris and his Brexit ministers soldier on.

The following took place on Thursday, September 26:

Michael Gove says that the No Deal Brexit committee has been meeting frequently:

Another Brexit meeting, announced yesterday, took place today:

Boris’s statement

Boris gave a statement to MPs at 6:30 p.m. on Wednesday about the ‘zombie Parliament’, the longest since the Civil War in the 17th century. Brexit Central has the full transcript. Excerpts follow:

With your permission, Mr Speaker, I shall make a statement on yesterday’s Supreme Court verdict and the way forward for this paralysed Parliament.

Three years ago, more people voted to leave the European Union than have ever voted for any party or proposition in our history.

Politicians of all parties promised the public that they would honour the result.

Sadly, many have since done all they could to abandon those promises and to overturn that democratic vote.

And after three years of dither and delay – that left this country at risk of being locked forever in the orbit of the EU – this government that I lead has been trying truly to get us out.

And most people – indeed most supporters of the party opposite — regardless of how they voted three years ago — think the referendum must be respected. They want Brexit done, I want Brexit done, people want us out on 31 October — with a new deal if possible but without if necessary.

64 days ago, I was told that Brussels would never reopen the Withdrawal Agreement. We are now discussing a reopened Withdrawal Agreement in the negotiations.

I was told that Brussels would never consider alternatives to the backstop – the trap that keeps the UK effectively in the EU but with no say.

We are now discussing those alternatives in the negotiations.

I was told Brussels would never consider arrangements that were not permanent. We are now discussing in the negotiations an arrangement that works on the principle of consent and is not permanent.

I was told there was no chance of a new deal but we are discussing a new deal.

And this is in spite of the best efforts of this Parliament to wreck our negotiations by their attempts to take No Deal off the table.

The truth is the majority in this Parliament are not opposed to the so-called No Deal — this Parliament does not want Brexit to happen at all.

Many of those who voted for the Surrender Act a few weeks ago said then that their intention was to stop a No Deal Brexit.

They have said every day since that Parliament must vote against ANY deal at all.

I think the people of this country can see perfectly clearly what is going on.

They know that this Parliament does not want to honour its promises to respect the referendum.

The people at home know that this Parliament will keep delaying, it will keep sabotaging the negotiations because they don’t want a deal

The public don’t want another referendum – what they want and what they demand, that we honour the promise we made to the voters to respect the first referendum.

And they also want us to move on — to put Brexit behind us and focus on the NHS, on violent crime and on cutting the cost of living.

That is why I also brought forward a Queen’s Speech. My government intends to present a programme for life after Brexit.

But some members of this House could not stand that either. Instead of facing the voters, the opposition turned tail and fled from an election. Instead of deciding to let the voters decide, they ran to the courts instead.

And despite the fact that I followed the exact same process as my predecessors in calling a Queen’s Speech, the Supreme Court was asked to intervene in this process for the first time ever and it is absolutely no disrespect to the judiciary to say I think the Court was wrong to pronounce on what is essentially a political question at a time of great national controversy.

So we have Opposition MPs that block and delay everything running to the courts to block and delay even more — including blocking legislation to improve and invest in our NHS and keeping violent criminals in jail.

The people outside this place understand what is happening

Out of sheer political selfishness and political cowardice members opposite are unwilling to move aside and let the people have their say.

They see MPs demanding that the people be given a say, then running scared from the election that would provide them with one.

And worst of all they see ever-more elaborate legal and political manoeuvres from the party opposite which is determined, absolutely determined, to say “we know best” and thumb their noses at the 17.4 million people who voted to leave the European Union.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party do not trust the people.

The Leader of the Opposition and his party are determined to overthrow the referendum result whatever the cost.

They do not care about the bill for hundreds of millions of pounds that will come with every week of delay.

They don’t care if another year or more is wasted arguing about a referendum that happened three years ago.

All that matters to them now is an obsessive desire to overrule the referendum result

I have to confess, Mr Speaker, that I was a little shocked to discover that the party whose members stood up in Brighton this week and repeatedly – and in the most strident terms – demanded an election, I hear them, is the very same party whose members have already this month – not once but twice – refused to allow the people to decide on their next government.

For two years they have demanded an election but twice they have voted against it …

So if in fact the party opposite does not in fact have confidence in the government, they will have a chance to prove it….I think they should listen to this Mr Speaker.

They have until the House rises today to table a motion of no confidence in the government, and we can have that vote tomorrow.

Or if any of the other parties, the smaller parties fancy a go, they can table that motion, we’ll give you the time for that vote

It is time for this Parliament finally to take responsibility for its decisions. We decided to call that referendum. We promised time and again to respect it.

I think the people of this country have had enough of it — this Parliament must either stand aside and let this government get Brexit done or bring a vote of confidence and finally face the day of reckoning with the voters.

And I commend this statement to the House.

No one from the opposition benches put forward a motion for either an election or a vote of no confidence.

People watching at home thought the PM’s speech was excellent.

The language issue

On Wednesday, Boris deplored the Benn-Burt bill in his above address and referred to it as the Surrender Act.

He is absolutely correct.

Opposition MPs took exception and said he should not refer to it as such, because MPs’ feelings were hurt. We watched the proceedings on television and do not understand how they arrived at that conclusion.

Boris also said ‘humbug’, which opposition benches also found hurtful.

A Labour MP, Paula Sherriff, then brought up Jo Cox, the Labour MP who was murdered in cold blood just days before the 2016 referendum.

The Prime Minister replied tactfully and mentioned Jo Cox’s name, saying that she would have wanted Brexit to go ahead in line with the referendum vote, the people’s will.

The media seized on this by making it sound like the PM brought up Jo Cox’s name first. He most certainly did not. That link also has videos of Ms Sherriff, which do not show her in a flattering light.

Ms Cox’s widower, Brendan, had this to say. I listened to the PM and did not hear him demonise the late MP in any way, but Mr Cox might have heard about the exchange second hand:

The atmosphere in Wednesday’s evening session was appalling. Speaker of the House John Bercow did very little to keep order. Opposition MPs spoke over the PM, they shouted in a hostile manner and Bercow said practically nothing.

On Thursday, talkRADIO’s Julia Hartley-Brewer interviewed a virtue-signalling Liberal Democrat MP:

Previously, she interviewed another virtue-signalling Lib Dem MP. Note the contrast in tone from said MP:

She gave a short message to opposition MPs on Brexit and language:

The language issue was debated at lunchtime on Thursday in Parliament.

Opposition MPs spoke of death threats.

Well, Conservatives have been on the receiving end of threatening behaviour, too, as Vicky Ford MP pointed out during the debate.

A little over a year ago, anti-Brexit people demonstrated outside of Jacob Rees-Mogg’s house, with his children present, more about which below.

Only a few days ago, a rapper accepting a music award held a dripping head effigy of Boris Johnson.

Threats are happening to MPs on both sides of the House of Commons:

Opposition language — the truth

In Thursday’s debate on language, following a statement by Labour MP Jess Phillips, who has also received death threats, a Conservative MP brought up Labour MP John McDonnell’s wish to assassinate Margaret Thatcher.

Of course, Speaker Bercow shut that down pretty fast.

Let us look at what John McDonnell said some time ago:

Backbencher has an excellent article explaining the full nasty and violent context of McDonnell’s aforementioned statements.

Another MP with the first name of John has also used foul and insulting language, directed below at a Conservative MP:

Here is a past video from the aforementioned Jess Phillips about her own party leader:

Also this (click on second tweet to see it in full):

Also:

And this:

And what about the language used in Remainer protests? ‘Betrayal’? ‘Treason May’?

That’s mild compared to this:

If those examples are not convincing enough, Guido Fawkes has many more.

After all is said and done, PLEASE leave everyone to their opinions!

No threats, please!

Let us live in peace, whatever our views!

As the wise Church of England clergyman, the Reverend Marcus Walker points out:

No adjournment for Conservative Party conference

The main opposition parties, Labour and the Lib Dems, have had their party conferences but voted against an adjournment for a few days next week for the Conservatives to have theirs.

How petty:

I could not agree more with the following opinion:

Certain cross-party bills will be tabled for next week, as the Leader of the House, Jacob Rees-Mogg, agreed with MPs on Thursday afternoon.

More to follow next week.

For all those holding church services in quasi-worship of the environment, a Catholic priest, the Revd Nicholas Gregoris, asks:

Would that these young Christian environmentalists valued life in the womb as much as plants and animals.

However, the priest makes the essential point that obeying the tenets of the Gospel and the Ten Commandments are what Christianity is all about. Failure to uphold those in favour of the world’s trends — e.g. making a religion out of environmentalism — will not win notional believers eternal life.

Repent of the Church of Gaia now or face eternal judgement without eternal God-granted rest.

The Church of Gaia is one of the devil’s best tricks today.

Be a steward of the environment, not an idoliser of it.

Activity in the Church of Gaia continues.

The other day we saw that students at New York’s Union Seminary confess to plants.

Another recent development is the anointment with chrism of Washington DC’s Catholic school students in a pledge to the environment.

Last Friday, September 20, 2019 — Greta Thunberg’s first school strike day of the autumn — some students in the Archdiocese of Washington assembled in churches for Catholic Charities’ Season of Creation Prayer Service:

This included showing Greta’s climate address to the UN — and anointing students’ hands with blessed chrism (sacramental oil):

Chrism is used in Catholic sacramental rites of Baptism, Confirmation and the Anointing of the Sick and Dying.

Therefore, use of sacramental oil is suspect when used in another context, such as this one.

Furthermore, anointing of the head — not the hands — is the general practice for Baptism and Confirmation. The brain rules what our hands do.

Devout Catholics had this to say about the service which elevates the environment above God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ:

There was more reaction here:

I’ll end with this tweet:

The practice you are depicting is blasphemy and idolatry. Pray for the conversion of all who participate in this sinfulness.

Indeed.

This ceremony is blasphemous and idolatrous. It also opens the door to heresy, elevating God’s creation above God Himself.

These are dangerous days for young Christians, whether Catholic or Protestant. Pray that the Holy Spirit works in them, turning them away from error and heresy towards the eternal truth as expressed in Holy Scripture and the Sacraments.

As we know, Greta Thunberg has resumed worldwide calls for children to bunk off school on Fridays in order to call attention to climate change.

Alan Jones, an Australian commentator on Sky News, had a pointed message for ‘little turds’ who should ‘get the facts’ before protesting. A partial transcript follows:

I couldn’t agree more.

Here is the partial transcript:

Also — wouldn’t it show more dedication to protesting climate change if the students got up early on a Saturday morning so to do?

Just a thought.

Once upon a time, I knew a couple who attended Union Seminary in New York.

As it was a long time ago — so last century — and I was young then, I thought that all seminaries were theologically conservative.

How wrong I was.

This couple, although they conducted themselves conservatively in apparel and manners, were among the most left-wing people I’d ever met. She went to study Theology. He was going to become an ordained minister until he realised he could make bags of money in the private sector.

Someday, I will examine Union Seminary here in more detail.

For now, this is what they got up to on Tuesday, September 17, 2019.

This is not from The Onion or Babylon Bee. It’s from the seminary’s own Twitter feed.

Read it and weep:

Our Lord Himself warned against false teachers, yet, this is how Union Seminary justifies their pagan pseudo-pantheism:

I cannot help but wonder where that leaves their vegetarian and vegan students.

I hope the following is not in any seminary’s future:

The thread garnered excellent replies from the devout:

What about Jesus’s withering the barren fig tree?

Guess Jesus has some repenting to do regarding that fig tree.

It’s time to return to Holy Scripture, folks, before it is too late:

Yep, they will ask for redemption one day.

Pray it’s not too late:

The reply was in response to ‘a few potted plants from Home Depot’ rather than the sentiment.

There were other calls to repentance, such as this one:

Then someone recalled that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a student at Union in 1930 and loathed it. A female cleric had a go at him:

Even a pagan thinks Union’s veggie worship is weird:

There were some funny plant-based puns, such as this:

But, ultimately, it comes down to this — a return to the Bible and its doctrine. Otherwise, these students and their professors could meet with a dreadful judgement from On High:

Pray not only for Union Seminary but for the countless others around the world that have turned to Gaia, rejecting Holy Scripture and Jesus Christ, our only Mediator and Advocate with the Father.

Bible croppedThe three-year Lectionary that many Catholics and Protestants hear in public worship gives us a great variety of Holy Scripture.

Yet, it doesn’t tell the whole story.

My series Forbidden Bible Verses — ones the Lectionary editors and their clergy omit — examines the passages we do not hear in church. These missing verses are also Essential Bible Verses, ones we should study with care and attention. Often, we find that they carry difficult messages and warnings.

Today’s reading is from the English Standard Version with commentary by Matthew Henry and John MacArthur.

Hebrews 4:6-11

Since therefore it remains for some to enter it, and those who formerly received the good news failed to enter because of disobedience, again he appoints a certain day, “Today,” saying through David so long afterward, in the words already quoted,

“Today, if you hear his voice,
do not harden your hearts.”

For if Joshua had given them rest, God[a] would not have spoken of another day later on. So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God, 10 for whoever has entered God’s rest has also rested from his works as God did from his.

11 Let us therefore strive to enter that rest, so that no one may fall by the same sort of disobedience.

———————————————————————————————–

Last week’s entry discussed God’s denial of eternal rest to unbelievers, using Psalm 95 as a reference point.

These verses conclude the dissertation by the author of Hebrews on Psalm 95 and the disobedient, wilful Israelites in the desert.

To better understand this in terms of the author’s Jewish audience, John MacArthur lays out the context of the importance of Mosaic law (emphases mine):

this is an important message for the Jew because the Jew prided himself on the fact that he had the information. He figured all I got to do is have the law, and I’m in. I don’t have to worry about obeying as long as I possess it. Which is ridiculous, but in Romans chapter 2, listen to the argument. Verse 25, “For circumcision verily profiteth, if you keep the law.” The Jew would say, “Well, we’re circumcised! Us! Doesn’t that get us automatically in? I mean, we’re circumcised.” He says, “Well, circumcision’s good if you keep the law.” It’s like the guy, you know, who went into the ring and before every fight he made the signs of the cross, you know. And one guy said, “Does it help?” He says, “It does if you can fight.”

it’s like a cop pulling you over to the side of the road and he says, “You just went through three red lights. You were speeding.” And you say, “I’m sorry, officer. You can’t give me a ticket. I have a copy of the California state code of laws. I own one. I own a book on how to drive. I’m sorry, I’ve got all the information. I’m not responsible. You can’t punish me. I know the information.” That doesn’t mean anything. That makes you all the more responsible. And in Romans chapter 2, “Circumcision profiteth if you keep the law, but if you’re a breaker of the law, your circumcision is made uncircumcision.” And they were rejoicing over the fact that they possessed the law, figuring that’s all that matters, you know, we’ve got the law.

That said, original audience notwithstanding, as I have written several times before, the Book of Hebrews also has vital messages for Christians:

Some people say, “Well, I go to church.” That doesn’t mean anything. Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than being in a garage makes you a car. That has nothing to do with it. And the whole issue is faith. The whole issue’s not activity. It’s faith. And unless the information is mixed with faith, it profits you nothing and you need to beware because you may come short of rest. But when somebody hears the word of God and believes it, then they’re saved.

In verse 6, the author addresses the Jews who converted to Christianity but were nonetheless torn by clinging to their former faith. Their families were angry with them and civil authorities were persecuting them, too. They were losing heart in their conversions, just as a number of Israelites turned away from God in the desert on the way to the Promised Land, Canaan. Their wilfulness in the desert caused God to desert them, just as they had deserted Him. That is a powerful judgement, and one that lasts forever. This is what the author is warning about.

Hence, the citation of Psalm 95 in verse 7. The word ‘today’ has an urgency about it. If we hear God’s voice today, may we not harden our hearts against Him. We do not know what tomorrow will bring. We have no claim on tomorrow, only God does.

The author then speaks of a Sabbath rest. There was a prescribed day of rest — the Sabbath — for the Israelites to praise and worship God (verses 8,9). The Lord rested on the seventh day after He created the universe (verse 10). We are commanded to follow His example.

There was also the concept of Canaan as a place of rest for those who believed in God and obeyed His commands on the long way there.

Matthew Henry reminds us that part of the Old Testament day of rest was also devoted to praying for God to send the Messiah — our Redeemer — to them:

(1.) From God’s finishing his work of creation, and so entering into his rest (Hebrews 4:3,4), appointing our first parents to rest the seventh day, to rest in God. Now as God finished his work, and then rested from it, and acquiesced in it, so he will cause those who believe to finish their work, and then to enjoy their rest. (2.) From God’s continuing the observance of the sabbath, after the fall, and the revelation of a Redeemer. They were to keep the seventh day a holy sabbath to the Lord, therein praising him who had raised them up out of nothing by creating power, and praying to him that he would create them anew by his Spirit of grace, and direct their faith to the promised Redeemer and restorer of all things, by which faith they find rest in their souls. (3.) From God’s proposing Canaan as a typical rest for the Jews who believed: and as those who did believe, Caleb and Joshua, did actually enter into Canaan; so those who now believe shall enter into rest.

Then the author leads on from temporal rest to eternal rest. Again, the author warns against disobedience in this life, because eternal rest is only for the faithful (verse 11). On that day, our earthly duties to God and to our neighbour come to an end.

Henry explains:

(4.) From the certainty of another rest besides that seventh day of rest instituted and observed both before and after the fall, and besides that typical Canaan-rest which most of the Jews fell short of by unbelief; for the Psalmist has spoken of another day and another rest, whence it is evident that there is a more spiritual and excellent sabbath remaining for the people of God than that into which Joshua led the Jews (Hebrews 4:6-9), and this rest remaining, [1.] A rest of grace, and comfort, and holiness, in the gospel state. This is the rest wherewith the Lord Jesus, our Joshua, causes weary souls and awakened consciences to rest, and this is the refreshing. [2.] A rest in glory, the everlasting sabbatism of heaven, which is the repose and perfection of nature and grace too, where the people of God shall enjoy the end of their faith and the object of all their desires. (5.) This is further proved from the glorious forerunners who have actually taken possession of this rest–God and Christ. It is certain that God, after the creating of the world in six days, entered into his rest; and it is certain that Christ, when he had finished the work of our redemption, entered into his rest; and these were not only examples, but earnests, that believers shall enter into their rest: He that hath entered into rest hath also ceased from his own works as God did from his, Hebrews 4:10. Every true believer hath ceased from his own works of righteousness, and from the burdensome works of the law, as God and Christ have ceased from their works of creation and redemption.

The gravity and import of this cannot be overemphasised.

John MacArthur says that the whole of the Bible is about restoring mankind to the beautiful rest that Adam had in the Garden of Eden before Original Sin. Adam did not have to do anything but enjoy God and His creation. He was at rest with God. Then, the serpent tempted Eve with a false promise of knowledge. Ever after, Adam had to work. Eve knew the physical pain of childbirth which, no doubt, would have been a breeze had she not fallen into sin.

This is what MacArthur says about God’s wish to reconcile mankind with Him — in rest. He started with Adam and progresses to the present day:

God said, “It’s done, and I’ve made a wonderful world for man. And I’ve plopped him down there, and I’ve given him a wife, and now everything is set. And I’m going to let him enjoy his relationship with me.” And Adam was walking and talking with God. He was at rest. He was in God’s rest. He leaned on God. He had no anxieties. He had no worries. He had the complete freedom, the fellowship with God. He was living in God’s rest. God had finished his work, and God rested. That’s what it says in verse 3 at the end. “Although the works were finished from the foundation of the world, for He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day in this way,” – and this certain place is Genesis 2, 1 and 2 – “And God did rest the seventh day from all his works.”

Now, stay with me on this. You’re going to have to use your brain for a minute. “My rest,” – verse 3, right? – “My rest,” – right in the middle of verse 3 – “Is defined as the rest which began when God finished his works and rested on the seventh day.” That it. It’s right there, a definition. God’s rest began right after the sixth day of creation. God was satisfied. He was infinitely satisfied and He rested, and He said, “Well, man, you can enter into my rest. I’ve made you a lovely world. You and I are going to get along. It’s just fellowship from here on out. You’re going to enjoy my rest.”

And there was only one condition. What’s always the condition for God’s rest? One word; what is it? Faith. Believe. What happened? Did Adam and Eve believe God or did they believe Satan? They believed Satan’s lies, didn’t they? Satan came down and started impugning the Word of God, and pretty soon Eve thought, “Hmm, I don’t know about this. Sure looks good. Maybe God’s, I don’t know – I’d like to be smart like that too and know good and evil.” And Satan kept working on her, and she disobeyed. And what happened? Immediately, unbelief forfeited what? Rest.

And you know what happened, Adam was restless. No longer did he walk and talk in the cool of the day. He started making clothes and hiding behind trees, didn’t he? Sneaking around with Eve, trying to stay out of the sight of God. You see what happened immediately, unbelief brought the forfeiting of rest and it was over with. And God’s great rest that he’d provided for His creation, man, was lost. You know what the history of the Bible is and the history of men? It’s the effort of God’s part to try to get man to get back into His rest.

Now, God had to do one other thing to make it available to man, and what was that? He had to accomplish the taking care of sin. And so the coming of Jesus Christ took care of the sin issue, and through that death of Christ, men may enter back into God’s rest. And even the people who lived before Jesus were saved on the basis of what God was going to do in Christ, right? We who were saved on this side of the Cross are saved on the basis of what God has done in Christ. But Christ bore sins, past and future. So, through Jesus Christ, God’s rest still continues, and men may still enter into His rest, and the history of God’s dealing with men is an attempt on God’s part to get men to enter His rest of which Canaan was a symbol.

And so God finished His perfect work, and man blew it. And man became restless because of unbelief. And verse 5 says, “And in this place again,” – and they’re quoting Psalm 95 – “They shall not enter into my rest.” God says, “Because of unbelief, man can’t enter.” God provided a rest on the seventh day, and it‘s been going on ever since, and the only people who ever enter into it are those who believe.

My friends, I believe in my heart that those people who sinned in the wandering in the wilderness not only forfeited Canaan but unless they exercised personal faith in God sometime through those 40 years, they forfeited eternal life of which Canaan was only a symbol. And so God swears that because of unbelief, men will not enter his rest.

I really hope that we think about that, not only today but also in future.

Speaking of rest, there was a time when shops were closed on Sundays. If they opened, it was in the morning. Everyone had a day of rest.

In the 1970s, shopping malls in the US began to open on Sundays. I can’t criticise that too much, because, after church, we would go to the mall.

In the 1980s, many US states that had ‘blue laws’ — no or limited Sunday openings — rescinded them, leaving shops free to open on the day of rest. I continued to go to the mall after church. By then, it was something one did.

Now, decades later, I wonder why so many of us do not observe a day of rest.

Barring those of us who have to work on Sundays — and I was obliged to do plenty of that in my time — there are seemingly endless Sunday obligations that do not include church. In fact, the timing of sports practice, to give but one example, precludes church attendance in many cases, at least here in the UK.

Do we no longer rest on a Sunday because we no longer attend church? Or do we no longer attend church because we cannot bring ourselves to rest? Or is church that ‘bad’ theologically that we no longer attend?

More and more people no longer attend church — or spend time reading the Bible and praying — yet, more and more people are restless. They cannot bear to a) be alone, b) sit in silence or c) relax.

Many Westerners, I would posit, are not at rest because they are not at rest with God in their daily lives.

Let’s quickly look at the rest of Hebrews 4.

The verses following today’s reading are severe. This is a Year B reading for a Sunday during the season after Pentecost. These verses say that everyone comes under divine scrutiny, if not judgement. This passage clearly disproves what atheists say:

12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. 13 And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

That should be engraved on every church.

After that, the author begins a dissertation on Jesus Christ as the Great High Priest. Much of this section, which runs beyond Chapter 4, is in the Lectionary, thankfully.

The author gives an ideal introduction, inspired by the Holy Spirit, revealing Christ’s mercy in His divinity and His humanity:

Jesus the Great High Priest

14 Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. 15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Absolutely! Would that we recalled that verse more often.

Hebrews is an unsung book, yet, it is one with so many essential lessons for us as Christians. Read it and rejoice, with thanksgiving!

Next week’s reading introduces a warning against apostasy in light of redemption through our Great High Priest.

Next time — Hebrews 5:11-14

What follows are the readings for the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity — the Fifteenth Sunday after Pentecost — September 22, 2019.

Readings are for Year C in the three-year Lectionary used in public worship.

There are two choices for the First Reading and Psalm. I have differentiated these by using blue in the headings for the alternative option.

Emphases below are mine.

First reading

We return to Jeremiah. Although the prophet knows that God’s judgement on His people is righteous, he is deeply saddened. Matthew Henry’s commentary says, ‘Mercies abused are forfeited, and it is just with God to take the forfeiture’. Gilead was a place not far from them, but even its balm could not heal their spiritual wantonness. Henry says that Christ is our spiritual physician and His blood our balm of Gilead. He came to save sinners, not bring about temporal rescue.

Jeremiah 8:18-9:1

8:18 My joy is gone, grief is upon me, my heart is sick.

8:19 Hark, the cry of my poor people from far and wide in the land: “Is the LORD not in Zion? Is her King not in her?” (“Why have they provoked me to anger with their images, with their foreign idols?”)

8:20 “The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.”

8:21 For the hurt of my poor people I am hurt, I mourn, and dismay has taken hold of me.

8:22 Is there no balm in Gilead? Is there no physician there? Why then has the health of my poor people not been restored?

9:1 O that my head were a spring of water, and my eyes a fountain of tears, so that I might weep day and night for the slain of my poor people!

Psalm

This Psalm was likely written by Asaph or one of his sons. Interestingly, Matthew Henry says that Jeremiah borrowed verses 6 and 7 (Jeremiah 10). We do not know the exact circumstances surrounding the Psalm other than to pray it in times of desperation which call for repentance.

Psalm 79:1-9

79:1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins.

79:2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the air for food, the flesh of your faithful to the wild animals of the earth.

79:3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them.

79:4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us.

79:5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealous wrath burn like fire?

79:6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call on your name.

79:7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.

79:8 Do not remember against us the iniquities of our ancestors; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low.

79:9 Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and forgive our sins, for your name’s sake.

First reading – alternate

The Lord was angry with His people for their idolatry and for cheating the poor.

Amos 8:4-7

8:4 Hear this, you that trample on the needy, and bring to ruin the poor of the land,

8:5 saying, “When will the new moon be over so that we may sell grain; and the sabbath, so that we may offer wheat for sale? We will make the ephah small and the shekel great, and practice deceit with false balances,

8:6 buying the poor for silver and the needy for a pair of sandals, and selling the sweepings of the wheat.”

8:7 The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob: Surely I will never forget any of their deeds.

Psalm – alternate

May we always remember to praise and glorify God, our Maker and giver of all good things in this transitory life.

Psalm 113

113:1 Praise the LORD! Praise, O servants of the LORD; praise the name of the LORD.

113:2 Blessed be the name of the LORD from this time on and forevermore.

113:3 From the rising of the sun to its setting the name of the LORD is to be praised.

113:4 The LORD is high above all nations, and his glory above the heavens.

113:5 Who is like the LORD our God, who is seated on high,

113:6 who looks far down on the heavens and the earth?

113:7 He raises the poor from the dust, and lifts the needy from the ash heap,

113:8 to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.

113:9 He gives the barren woman a home, making her the joyous mother of children. Praise the LORD!

Epistle

Paul explains to Timothy that God desires our prayers for those in authority over us.

1 Timothy 2:1-7

2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone,

2:2 for kings and all who are in high positions, so that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and dignity.

2:3 This is right and is acceptable in the sight of God our Savior,

2:4 who desires everyone to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

2:5 For there is one God; there is also one mediator between God and humankind, Christ Jesus, himself human,

2:6 who gave himself a ransom for all–this was attested at the right time.

2:7 For this I was appointed a herald and an apostle (I am telling the truth, I am not lying), a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth.

Gospel

We return to Luke’s Gospel. This parable is much better in the older translations, e.g.:

13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Everything we have in this life is on loan; we are but stewards of it. We cannot rely on them and God. God should always be foremost in our hearts and minds. Matthew Henry has an excellent explanation of the finer details of this parable.

Luke 16:1-13

16:1 Then Jesus said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was squandering his property.

16:2 So he summoned him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Give me an accounting of your management, because you cannot be my manager any longer.’

16:3 Then the manager said to himself, ‘What will I do, now that my master is taking the position away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg.

16:4 I have decided what to do so that, when I am dismissed as manager, people may welcome me into their homes.’

16:5 So, summoning his master’s debtors one by one, he asked the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’

16:6 He answered, ‘A hundred jugs of olive oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, sit down quickly, and make it fifty.’

16:7 Then he asked another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He replied, ‘A hundred containers of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill and make it eighty.’

16:8 And his master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly; for the children of this age are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than are the children of light.

16:9 And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of dishonest wealth so that when it is gone, they may welcome you into the eternal homes.

16:10 “Whoever is faithful in a very little is faithful also in much; and whoever is dishonest in a very little is dishonest also in much.

16:11 If then you have not been faithful with the dishonest wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches?

16:12 And if you have not been faithful with what belongs to another, who will give you what is your own?

16:13 No slave can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.”

I hope that everyone reading this has a blessed Sunday.

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