JULY • AUGUST 2000 “WHERE DO WEEDS COME FROM? It is important to realize that the presence of weeds is directly related to our own activities and that they appear when the native vegetation is disturbed. This is true of the areas cleared for homes and especially for those garden areas where we plant and nurture flowers, vegetables, fruits, and lawns” (Controlling Weeds, an Ortho Book).
“Ah, the convenience of weeds! A habit of cohabitation with humans is surely among their distinctions. The habitat descriptions in Common Weeds are in fact boring: ‘gardens, pastures, meadows and lawns,’ ‘cultivated crops, gardens, grain fields and waste ground’…The monotony is not the fault of the authors; how many ways can one say that weeds are found where humans have disturbed the ground?…Weeds are our creatures. They are the fruit of our labor, offspring of our expulsion from the Garden into gardens of weeds” (My Weeds, Sara Stein).
“And unto Adam He said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Gen. 3:17-19).
On WEEDS and WEEDING
ON WEEDS AND WEEDING How does morning glory become bindweed? Or holy desire get entangled with lust?
on’t confuse me with a gardener. I plant flowers spawns almost 2,000 plants in a year. While the thistle each year but I don’t read garden catalogs in is still tender, before the dandelion’s taproot has February, longing for the moment when the snow anchored well below the surface, before the quack grass melts enough to see the soil. I like flowers as art, the has spread out of control, nip it in the bud. So it is with bold interplay of colors, the drama of the unfolding the weeds in my heart. The longer they are left to grow, bud—flowers as ideas, blooming in my mind, not the the greater the influence and the greater the hold. real thing struggling to survive in my yard. 2. A gentle, steady application of water helps. When I have no feel for flowers. I don’t understand their the ground (or heart) is hard, it’s almost impossible to needs: their longing for sunlight or shade, for sand or uproot the cursed things. Regular exposure to the Word loam; their passion for wiggling their roots into manure. will soften the hold bad habits have on the soul. Flowers are like strangers whom I admire from a dis3. Weeds aren’t fussy; they’ll grow anywhere. In her tance. In fact, when I finally get around to visiting the book, My Weeds, Sara Stein writes: “That’s one of the garden center, I can almost sense the flowers first things you notice about weeds. They grow A good sighing with relief as my shadow moves past in driveway gravel, on railway beds, through them. They seem to know that the ones I take cracks in sidewalks…It isn’t that they must gardener home with me will never attain botanical greathave an awful place to grow, it’s that they make must not ness. They may not even survive the season. do where cultivated plants cannot.” In the only love Flowers and I find the basis for a relationprocess, weeds steal nutrients from the soil, flowers, but ship in our hatred for weeds. I was out hating block sunlight, drink up the rainwater, entangle hate weeds. this morning. Perhaps that’s too strong a word, roots, and just plain take over the place. The but I was tearing them out of the ground and spiritual applications should be obvious to all. leaving their limp bodies to shrivel and die without the 4. You have to be careful when weeding because you slightest twinge of conscience. And as I worked at it, can do damage to the flowers. He is a dangerous man trying to push back the evidence of the Curse only who starts weeding before learning the difference slightly, I thought of the other weeding I needed to do. between violets and bellwort, between snapdragons and My soul is a garden inclosed, as the Singer wrote: toadflax. The study of soul weeds, called Hamartiology “Awake, O north wind; and come, thou south; blow (from the Gk. hamartanein, to miss the mark) is necesupon my garden, that the spices thereof may flow out. sary for those serious about what the Master does and Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his pleasdoesn’t like in His garden. The seeds of wrong thoughts ant fruits” (Song of Sol. 4:16). It is my garden because spring up into noxious growth that stifles the Life in us. I live and work there. But it doesn’t belong to me. It is 5. You win or the weed does, but failure doesn’t mean His. I am responsible to cultivate thoughts of Christ, to you can’t try again! Weeding is a life-long work. But receive with meekness the engrafted Word, and to beneweed-free living is part of the blessed hope when at last fit from the fructifying influence of the Spirit. The life the curse is removed (Rev. 22:3). Amen to that! is from Christ; the fruit is the Spirit’s; the Husbandman This Uplook features articles on Elisha, the man of is the Father. But I am on the weeding brigade. God. He followed Elijah, of course, and in some ways What lessons enriched my weeding time this mornseemed more effective in weeding the garden of Israel ing? Let me include five (I weeded out the rest): than his predecessor. It may be that the sixth point, 1. When weeding, sooner is better than later. Weeds learned from his life, is this: sometimes when convincare tenacious! Japanese knotweed sprouts through four ing weeds to let go, a constant, steady pressure is better inches of asphalt. Bamboo grows 18 inches a day. Roots that a violent snatch. of Canada thistle spread through an area 20 feet in diameter in one season. A wormwood plant produces J. B. Nicholson, Jr. over one million seeds per season. A yellow nutsedge
UPLOOK • JUNE 2000
UPLOOK Volume 66
Features THE BIG SCARE Warren Henderson
ELISHA’S MENTOR Mark Kolchin
Poem: THE MAN OF GOD William Blane
TWO MEN: ONE MISSION Hamilton Smith
THE POT OF OIL W. W. Fereday
NAAMAN THE SYRIAN J. G. Bellett
OPEN THE YOUNG MAN’S EYES Tom Westwood
DEATH IN THE POT F. W. Krummacher
ELISHA AND THE SHE-BEARS W. Ross Rainey
WHO FOUND IT OUT? C. H. Spurgeon
Departments EDITORIAL 2 FRONT LINES 4 WHAT’S GOING ON 9 LOOK AT BOOKS: “Getting a Grip on Prophecy” Mike Fitzhugh 28 Subscription Information: The Uplook magazine mailing list is maintained on a subscription basis. There is no charge for a subscription, however you must renew your subscription annually in order to continue receiving the magazine. An initial subscription is for six issues. Thereafter any time you renew, your subscription will be extended a further eleven issues. There are three ways to renew: 1) by using the envelope included with the January issue each year 2) by using the form on our website at: http://www.uplook.org/magazine_uplook/subscribe/ 3) by contacting our office at any time, by phone, fax, mail or e-mail. Please advise us of any address changes at least six weeks in advance and include your customer number from your mailing label.
UPLOOK Founded in 1927 as Look on the Fields, UPLOOK is published eleven times a year by Uplook Ministries, 813 North Ave., N.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49503. Phone: (616) 456-9166 Fax: (616) 456-5522 Website: http://www.uplook.org E-mail: email@example.com ISSN #1055-2642 Printed in USA. © Copyright 2000 Uplook Ministries UPLOOK magazine is intended to encourage the people of God in fidelity to His Word, fervency in intercessory prayer, labors more abundant, and love to the Lord. Believing in the practical Headship of Christ and the local autonomy of each assembly, this is not intended to be an official organ of any group or federation of local churches. The editor and authors take responsibility for materials published. For any blessing which accrues, to God be the glory. UPLOOK is copyrighted solely for the purpose of maintaining the integrity of the material. It is not intended to limit the proper use of articles contained in the magazine. Please include the words: “UPLOOK magazine, by permission” on photocopies made for personal use. For large quantities or other purposes, contact UPLOOK. Submissions Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope with all unsolicited material. News items must be submitted at least two months in advance of issue requested. Selected news items will be carried for two issues (if time permits). The editor reserves the right to determine those items best suited for the magazine. Editorial decisions are final. Photos accepted. Please enclose a self-addressed, stamped envelope for photos you wish returned. Postal Information US POSTMASTER: (USPS 620-640) Send address changes to UPLOOK, P. O. Box 2041, Grand Rapids, MI 49501-2041 Periodical postage paid at Grand Rapids, MI. CANADIAN POSTMASTER: Send address changes to UPLOOK, P.O. Box 427, St. Catharines, ON L2R 6V9 International Publications Contract No. 1064363 (Canadian Distribution) BRITISH POSTMASTER: Send address changes to UPLOOK, P. O. Box 1163, Bristol BS39 4YA
Donation Information: Uplook Ministries is a tax-exempt corporation looking to the Lord to provide for the needs of this ministry. This magazine is sent freely to those who request it, but evidently is not freely produced. Donations may be made by check or money order denominated in US $, Canadian $ or £ sterling. All checks should be made payable to UPLOOK and sent to one of the above addresses. Donations may also be made by VISA, Mastercard/ACCESS or Discover in US dollars, either by mail or at our website: http://www./uplook.org/home/about_us/contributions.html We do not advise sending credit card numbers by e-mail. Please include your card number, expiry date and the amount in US dollars you wish to donate. Receipts are issued for all donations received and are valid for tax purposes in the US and Canada. Making a donation will automatically renew your Uplook subscription.
www.uplook.org • JUNE 2000
Vessels get filled The Lord spoke clearly in Baldwin City.
emorial Weekend marked the second Vessels of Honor conference at Baker University in Baldwin City, KS, with 185 college and career age believers from across the US and Canada attending. The following were speakers and seminar leaders: Joe Reese, Art and Debbie Auld, Jamie Hull, Warren Henderson, Ken Miller, Steve Price, John Heller, and J. B. Nicholson, Jr. They gave direct exhortation to develop integrity in worship, hermeneutics, apologetics, assembly life, and moral purity. Steve Price reminded us, “Experience is always subject to the teaching of God’s Word.” The Lord used John Heller and Jamie Hull to help us examine our
worship. One principle we carried with us into the Remembrance Meeting was given to us by Jamie Hull, “The believer in the Lord Jesus Christ will mature in direct relationship to the exercise of his priesthood.” It was very encouraging to hear the number of young men who stood up to offer their spiritual sacrifices in honor of the Son. After Remembrance, Joe Reese addressed the capacity of our Lord Jesus to suffer like no human ever could. Lamentations 1:8 was the foundation verse. We were warned not to allow ourselves as to become desensitized to the sufferings of the Lord in His life, culminating at the cross. No one stirred as the Lord had us focus on how precious the sufferings of His Son
SUMMER in NEW RICHMOND The Christians that meet at Bethel Bible Chapel (New Richmond, QC) will hold their summer conference July 9 at 7 PM and July 10, 10 AM to 8 PM with speaker Wm. Burnett (ON). Meetings are scheduled for the evenings of July 11-13. Contact Danny Duga at (418) 392-5723.
–high school seniors) to cultivate Bible study techniques and a daily walk with the Lord. To be held at Truett Camp & Conference Center, Hayesville, NC, Aug. 6-12 (no fee to the students). Teachers: Clayton Davis (NC), Walter Peck (NC), Fred Forrester (NC), Jonathan Brower (VA), Dan Gustafson (NC), and Bill Gustafson (GA). DV, Bill Gustafson will teach with a tabernacle model each night (open to the public). The Timothy Project 1520 W Deep Creek Rd. Bryson City, NC 28713 828-488-6738 firstname.lastname@example.org www.geocities.com/timothyproject
GOSPEL OUTREACH A gospel outreach is planned, DV, in Minot, ND, July 20-29, involving literature distribution, visitation, gospel meetings, and a booth at the ND State Fair. Your involvement and prayers would be appreciated. For info, call: (701) 837-9858 email@example.com J. Ronald at (306) 242-1506 THE TIMOTHY PROJECT The Timothy Project is designed for Christian young people (age 13-
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FELLOWSHIP FAMILY CAMP The dates for Fellowship Family Camp are Aug. 13-17 in the Rocky Mountains near Estes Park, CO. Phil Kleyman is the invited speaker:
are to Him. We considered each cry from the cross. Art Auld ministered from 2 Timothy 2, and his exhortations encouraged us to be soldiers who run according to the rules, then harvest our reward by being faithful servants. Art stated, “Knowing who we are as the Church should change our lives dramatically.” This conference gives evidence that the Lord is raising up young men and women who have a desire to be numbered among the committed. If the Lord has not returned by then, and in His will another Vessels of Honor will be convened over Memorial Weekend, 2001. Start planning now to attend! —Carolyn Summers, Crossroads Bible Chapel, N. Dartmouth, MA. Fellowship Family Camp 2605 14th Ave. Court Greeley, CO 80631 (970) 356-0817 UPWARD BOUND Upward Bound is a two-week program from Aug. 12-25. The first week will be a time of Bible study at Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, ON, with a number of speakers. If your schedule permits, plan a second week and take a canoe trip into Algonquin Park. Contact Sandy McEachern at (519) 638-2928. YOUNG PEOPLE IN WICHITA The saints at Westside Bible Chapel (Wichita, KS) look forward to hosting a young people’s conference Aug. 18-20 with Joe Reese (ON). Contact Darold Peters: (316) 943-3339 firstname.lastname@example.org
Front Lines LABOR DAY WEEKEND Christians gathering to the name of the Lord at Horse Lake Christian Fellowship in 100 Mile House, BC, extend an invitation to their Labor Day Bible conference (Sep. 3-4) on the subject of evangelism. Speakers invited: Boyd Nicholson (ON) and Floyd Schneider (IA). To be held at the Best Western 108 Resort Conference Center & Ranch. Contact Don Street: (250) 395-4230 email@example.com NC MEN’S CONFERENCE A men’s conference is planned for Sep. 8-9 at Camp Living Water, Bryson City, NC. From 3 pm Fri. through noon Saturday. Speakers: Jonathan Brower, Phillip Morgan, Bill Neufeld, and Craig Sutherland. WriteWalter Peck (call evenings): 15 Bent Tree Rd. Asheville, NC 28804 (828)254-5475 FALL FOLIAGE CONFERENCE Arnot McIntee (ON) will be the
Accounting Clerk Job Description: • perform daily bookkeeping duties using Quickbooks Pro; • prepare monthly reconciliations— bank, cash on hand, credit card; • prepare monthly financial statements and management reports; • generate monthly customer statements; • prepare donation receipts weekly; • other general accounting duties— accounts payable, bank deposits, orders. Requirements: • minimum three years’ experience in a similar position; • computer literate with experience using computerized accounting programs (preferably Quickbooks), Microsoft Excel, and the Internet. Currently this is a part-time position
speaker for a fall foliage conference scheduled for Sep. 25-29, held at the Camp-of-the-Woods conference facility, Speculator, NY, in the heart of the Adirondacks. Cost: $265 per person (includes meals and deluxe accommodations). Registration is strongly encouraged by Sep. 15. Honeyrock Ministries, Inc. P.O. Box 305 Lanoka Harbor, NJ 08734 firstname.lastname@example.org OK BIBLE CONFERENCE East Tulsa Bible Chapel (Tulsa, OK) will hold a Bible conference, Lord willing, on Nov. 4-5. Invited speakers are Joe Reese (ON) and Ken Miller (OK). Contact: Jim Lindamood (918) 663-1121 email@example.com SERVICE OPPORTUNITIES Camp Administrator Camp Imadene requires a person to fulfill the responsibilities of Camp Administrator. This is the key (15-20 hrs. per week) but with the possibility of full-time employment in the fall. UPLOOK Ministries is a Christian service organization with a mission of disseminating the truth of the Word of God by a variety of means including publishing, book distribution, ministry conferences, audio and video productions, and increasingly via the internet. We offer a friendly, family-like work environment in a dynamic, fast-paced setting. Submit a letter outlining why you would like to work with us along with a current resumé to: Kevin Shantz Business Manager PO Box 2041 Grand Rapids, MI 49501 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Fax: 616-456-5522
management position of the camp with responsibility for ensuring that the mission, goals, objectives, and policies of the ministry are carried out, and administering the day-today operation of the camp. Camp Imadene PO Box 374 Mesachie Lake, BC V0R 2N0 email@example.com Fax: (250) 749-6607 FELLOWSHIP INFORMATION Columbia Crossroads, PA John and Cheri Pinho live in Columbia Crossroads, PA (about 30 minutes from Elmira, NY). The closest New Testament assembly that they know of is 1.5 hours away. They would like to meet with other likeminded believers in their area. John and Cheri Pinho (570) 297-1003 e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Salt Lake City Area Christians in the Salt Lake City area meet near Ogden, Utah (about 30 minutes north of Salt Lake City). The Lord has multiplied us to six families who gather each Lord’s Day for breaking of bread, fellowship, prayer and the apostles’ doctrine. Roger Wardell at (801) 779-2913 email@example.com Clark Groves at (435) 752-4031 SL902@cc.usu.edu OPENINGS AT WESTERN ASSEMBLIES HOME Western Assemblies Home in Claremont, CA has several openings for elderly residents. There are single rooms, double rooms and independent lodging available. The Claremont Bible Chapel is located one block away. Western Assemblies Home in southern California enjoys a mild climate year round. Spend a week with us to determine your needs. The Western Assemblies JULY-AUGUST 2000
Front Lines Home has been serving the elderly for 56 years. Contact : Mrs. Lynn Hughes, Administrator (909) 626-3711 CHAIRS AVAILABLE Grace Chapel in Tenafly, NJ, has purchased new seating and has available approximately 120 old, but very serviceable, molded fiberglass chairs. Perhaps a camp or a new assembly could use these. Contact: Rich Steinhofer 310 Lacey Dr. New Milford, NJ 07646 RicJea@peoplepc.com TEA FOR CHRIST Hamilton Bible Fellowship, Hamilton (Trenton area), NJ, recently held a Ladies’ Victorian Tea with support of other area assemblies. The history of the Victorian tea was given and the main speaker spoke on “How to Handle Losses.” The gospel was given. Approximately 80 women were in attendance. A number indicated they had made professions of faith, fourteen requested the Jesus video, ten requested Bible studies and seventeen wanted information about upcoming events at HBF. If you would like to have a Victorian tea at your assembly, please call: Maria Freeman (609) 585-1835 firstname.lastname@example.org. CABIN FOR SALE A cabin is for sale in Caledonia State Park in Pennsylvania, two miles from Greenwood Hills Bible Camp and Conference Ground. The cabin has three furnished bedrooms, a bathroom, kitchen and screened porch, half cellar, central heating and air conditioning. For info: Mary Jane Chitty 410A Menno Village Chambersburg, PA 17201 (717) 709-0099
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LOOKING FOR HYMN BOOKS Wes and Ginna Patterson are looking for five soft leather-bound copies of Worship and Remembrance hymnals. If you know how these could be obtained, contact: Wes and Ginna Patterson 648 Lantern Ridge Dr. Winston-Salem, NC 27104 (336) 760-9657 email@example.com
gentle, faithful man, and a man of arduous prayer. Jim never stopped praying specifically for the needs of everyone in his life, including countless students at the College. His focus was always on ministering to and teaching the next generation, and he was always alert to the lessons he could pass on.
COMMENDATION Gwen-Anne Fielding The believers meeting at Bethel Gospel Chapel (New Liskeard, ON) commend Gwen-Anne to the grace of God for His work in Romania. For two months she will be assisting Ron and Sue Bates in Bucharest with their work in orphanages. Gwen-Anne plans to leave for Romania the middle of July, Lord willing. The saints in her fellowship share in this exercise, praying God’s blessing and protection.
Stephen J. Allen “Pop” Allan, 83 years old, went to be with his Lord on April 1, at his home at Turkey Hill Ranch Bible Camp near Freeburg, MO. “Pop” was a fixture at the camp since its inception in 1972, and his smile, twinkling eye, and quick wit were known to generations of campers. He loved meeting young people, and always had a ready word concerning the things of the Lord. He especially enjoyed encouraging young men to study the Word and go on for Him. “Pop” used his acquired business skills to locate needed supplies for the camp, and was able to save the camp a great deal over the years, one factor in its rapid growth. He served as camp treasurer for the majority of his 27 years on the camp board. His father, Edwin R. Allan, was a man of God, helping to start several assemblies, and reaching many with the gospel. He was very concerned for his son, Stephen, who did not come to know the Lord until he was 28 years old. But once saved, Steve showed the great change in his life, and his eagerness to serve his Lord. “Pop” is survived by his wife, Lillian, two daughters, two sons, thirteen grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
CHANGE OF STATUS Frank Burgess The saints in fellowship at Sun Valley Bible Chapel, Lafayette, CA, hereby withdraw the commendation of Frank Burgess as given in our initial letter of commendation in 1989, including any subsequent updates. AT HOME James L. R. Catron Jim Catron, beloved and faithful member of the Emmaus faculty, went to be with the Lord this past March at the age of 65. Jim grew up in Illinois, the youngest of seven children. Saved at the age of 16, Jim began a lifetime habit of poring over God’s Word. He has long been renowned at the College as the “walking Bible encyclopedia” but Scripture knowledge was not what Jim was best known for. Those who knew him best thought of him as a
The big scare In the Church age, ministries like Elijah’s & Elisha’s are ours! of regular events on which we base our life. He had demonstrated His great power in delivering Israel from Egypt; in the forty-year desert experience which followed; during the prophetic eras of Elijah and Elisha; and more recently through the ministry of His own Son. Now, God was going to use common people to work these great signs and wonders to once more proclaim to the Jews that the Jesus they had crucified was their Messiah. Thus, these mysterious signs and
produce the Big Scare that shook Jerusalem! The Big Scare comprises eight separate works of God performed once and only once at the conversion of a soul to Christ. These acts are or ten anxious days they not earned by man, or derived natuhad waited in Jerusalem for rally from human experience. All the promised “Comforter.” these works are accomplished uniHow often their minds must versally in all who know Christ as have revisited that evening seven Saviour. It is after these initial acts weeks earlier when the Lord pledged that the Holy Spirit begins working to send another Comforter, the Spirit in the life of the believer—as the of Truth, who would abide with believer submits to them forever. So in God and relinobedience to the quishes control of B Baptism into the Body of Christ. Lord’s bidding a few self. Some of believers gathered to these ministries to I Indwelling of the Holy Spirit bodily. pray for the arrival the believer are G Gifts for spiritual maturity. of this mysterious teaching, guiding, Someone and the comfort, sanctifyS Sealing of the soul’s security in Christ. advent of something ing, directing, C Cleansing of evil and polluted things in the heart. they didn’t underconvicting, interA Anointing for purpose and discernment. stand. ceding, enabling, R Regeneration, bringing a new life to the recipient. Suddenly, the empowering, quiet reverence of E Earnest, God’s pledge to complete what He began. effecting worship, the corporate prayer and giving dismeeting was overcernment. come with the roar of rushing wind wonders had a specific purpose in Baptism: Spiritual baptism and the appearance of fiery cloven the infancy of the Church Age. was an historical act of tongues descending on the saints. Looking beyond this inaugural disthe Holy Spirit that made The Holy Spirit had come, just as play of spiritual activity, however, the initial 120 individual the Lord had promised! He filled we are enlightened to several “initial believers into one Body. Since then, them all, taking up residence in their works” of the Holy Spirit in the life the believing soul comes into the earthly temples. of every believer, whether present at good of that baptism when the Holy What effect did this have on those Pentecost or saved since then Spirit adds them to the Body of at Jerusalem? Acts 2 records that through repentance of sin and accepChrist (1 Cor. 12:13). Since this is those who witnessed this great manitance of the gospel of Jesus Christ. the only purpose of spiritual bapfestation of God’s power were “conAlthough the application of these tism, it is never repeated (once founded,” “amazed,” “perplexed,” unrepeatable and initial works in you’re in you’re in, you cannot be and “fear came upon every soul.” those early believers and the continpulled out, Rom. 8:39). There was a Big Scare in progress. ued filling by the Holy Spirit is mysWater baptism, which follows In the past, God, for brief periods terious to us, these activities of God spiritual baptism, is a personal act of of time, disturbed the natural course in the life of believers culminated to obedience by the believing soul in Editor’s Note: Due to our AAQ (Annual Acrostic Quota) of 1 per annum, we generally do not publish articles of this type. However, since the author is a good friend (and an aeronautical engineer), we thought he might be able to get this one off the ground. See note at end of article.
www.uplook.org • JULY-AUGUST 2000
THE BIG SCARE response to the Lord’s command (Mt. 28:19). In so doing, a public profession of Christ is made to encourage the saved and witness to the lost (Acts 10:43-48). Indwelling: Paul taught that every believer becomes the dwelling place of God (1 Cor. 6:19). The Lord demonstrated His wrath over a defiled temple twice during His earthly ministry. With scourge in hand He cleansed the temple by driving out impure and evil activities taking place there. He desires the same holy consecration of our bodies. What impurity would He desire to drive out of your body, His temple? He despises sin and impure thoughts. Let us strive to maintain God’s dwelling place as holy! Gifts: We read in 1 Corinthians 12 that the Spirit distributes spiritual gifts to believers as He wills (v. 11). The number of gifts per believer will vary (v. 4), but every believer will get a gift (v. 7). The manner in which these gifts will be used also varies (v. 5). The beneficiaries of the gifts will be different (v. 6). The purpose of every spiritual gift is to glorify God. Through the mutual use of spiritual gifts by all believers the Church is built up, or added to, and God is glorified (1 Pet. 4:10; 1 Cor. 14:12). Sealing: The seal of God, Paul tells us in Ephesians 1:13, is the Holy Spirit Himself. The eternal truth of this seal is likened to the seal placed on a letter or scroll. The seal protects and secures the letter. The seal indicates who the originator and owner of the letter is. In some cases the seal was used to indicate approval of a contract or agreement. In like manner the invisible Holy Spirit seals the believer. God indicates to all unseen powers and principalities that this soul is under the protection of God and is His personal possession, as transacted through the work at Calvary. Cleansing: In the School of Christ by Dr. Gooding explains the washing of regeneration is an initial experience introducing two ideas:
In the first place, it is a washing, a cleansing away of evil and polluted things. In the second place, it is regeneration, the positive implanting of a new life, and a new order of living. The Holy Spirit washes us by bringing us to see the wrong and evil in our sinful attitudes and desires. He makes us feel their uncleanness, and leads us to repent of them and repudiate them. More deeply than that, He brings us to see that, in spite of all our efforts to improve ourselves, we cannot eradicate these evil powers within us: we need a Saviour. We cry out in the secret of our heart: “O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me?”
Anointing: Priests, prophets, and kings were anointed when consecrated for the Lord’s use in service. Just
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as the Lord was anointed by the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38) at the commencement of His ministry, each believer is called for a purpose in the body of Christ according to the sovereign will of God. Not only does this anointing separate the believer for God’s purpose, the anointing also gives divine discernment of the truth and enablement to spread this truth (1 Jn. 2:18-27). Regeneration: Regeneration is the implanting of a new life in what was dead, as discussed in the Cleansing section. This action brings about a new creation in the spiritual realm. The believer was dead, but now is made spiritually alive. Earnest: When one makes an agreement with another to purchase a piece of property, there is generally a pledge made call an “earnest” by the one buying the property. The buyer places a sum of money to ratify his commitment to do everything he has agreed to do. Likewise, God has given us His Spirit as earnest to show that He will complete what He has started in us. The believer, as the espoused bride of Christ, has a pledge from the Lord that He will return to wed. This gives the believer a blessed hope. For one day the Lord will return, and in one final act, God will complete the salvation of every true believer by glorifying them. Paul writes, The Lord “shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself” (Phil. 3:21). Seeing, then, the great work that God has done through His Spirit in the depths of our being, let us display the light of Christ through these regenerated clay vessels and endeavor not to hinder the Spirit’s filling through disobedience and pride. While it is true that the vast signs and wonders of the Apostolic age have passed, the same Spirit is still actively wooing a Bride for the Saviour today. As at the feast of Pentecost, the unsaved can still be left in wonder, amazement, and fear as a result of their contact with Spirit-controlled believers. Let them see the effects of the Big Scare.
HE ACROSTIC has fallen on hard times. Considered to be contrived and therefore forced (which it may be), it was once used often (and effectively) by preachers as an aid for memory. Forsaking All, I Trust Him and God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense are two I remember from childhood. But the acrostic has a much longer and more illustrious history than that. Psalms 9, 10, 25, 34, 37, 111, 119, 145 as well as the Virtuous Woman passage in Proverbs 31 and the Laments of Jeremiah are biblical examples of acrostics. —ed.
W H AT ’ S G O I N G O N ? ANY n GERM i E R in U T rts that o LITERA p e r t s Tru ally Europe ey annu r h t o f y y n r a t nis Germ 0 The Mi s, 12,00 rly East r e a d m r n o e f l ca as ure. what w 70,000 gospel l literat e s 1 p t s u o o g of semblie s s send a n o e t m 0 o gs o and 3 assistin orities t Bibles, e r h t a u y a e e h 0ly t y th a 20,00 Current been invited b n i s g n i t 00. ve pel mee September, 20 s who ha o g f o eek r, in ffort. hold a w n amphitheate r this e o f n e r ma breth seat Ro erman G r u o th Pray wi
PRAISING GOD in GARLAND In the January 2000 issue of Uplook we published a request for the Dickinson family with the headline: “This Texas family needs intercessory prayer right now.” Two days after the birth of their ninth child, 36-year-old Despina was diagnosed with an aggressive, advanced form of lung cancer which was inoperable and incurable. She was given six months to a year to live. Knowing her future was in the hands of God, Despina made steady progress with chemotherapy and then had eight weeks of daily radiation treatments. The best news imaginable for Ed and Despina and their family arrived just in time for Mother’s Day: Despina is in 100% remission. Praise God and thank you for praying! The Dallas Morning News reported: “The Dickinsons, active members of a small Christian church in Garland, subscribe to more than a medical view. They quietly credit the countless prayers of friends and strangers, as well as effective medicine, which the doctors provided with God’s guidance. “When you stare death in the
face, it’s like you have to have faith,” Despina told the newspaper reporter, “You have nothing left. It’s very easy in a way. They just told you you’re going to be gone in a few months. You just pray…After the rain comes a beautiful rainbow. That’s were I am right now—enjoying the rainbow!” PRINTING in CHINA According to the Bible League, with at least 65 million believers, the Chinese church is one of the largest in the world. About 85% of these Christians worship in house churches not sanctioned by the Chinese government. Almost all of China’s house churches are led by Christians who have no access to solid Bible teaching. This, of course, leads to young Christians being discipled by those who are spiritually immature themselves, wrong understanding of Scriptures spreading through the church and the formation of cults. Praise the Lord for many opportunities North American Christians have to be involved in supporting the work of printing literature in China that is solid doctrinally and an encouragement to the believers.
ANOTHER KIDNAPPING We have been reminded in recent months of the special need to pray for the Lord’s hand of protection on our brothers and sisters in Colombia. An Australian assembly missionary, Edward Smith, was kidnapped on Saturday, May 13. He was taken, along with 3 Colombian believers, from a home in a small town about an hour outside of Sincelejo, in northwest Colombia. The three Colombians were released later in the day. Thankfully, on Wednesday, May 23, Ed was also released. New Tribes Mission is still searching for any information about Mark, Rick, and Dave who were kidnapped January 31, 1993. NTM headquarters receives phone calls insisting that the men are dead and others report that they are alive. Each one of these rumors is carefully researched, but at this time none have been confirmed. On average, one person disappears daily from the capital city. Those who do not pay the extortion money demanded of them are killed or their home or business is bombed. COMMENDED WORKERS’ TAX For many years, those involved in the Lord’s work on a full-time basis have been subject to self-employment tax on the money they receive, unless they “opted out” of such tax. Normally, the decision to “opt out” is irrevocable. Some people who did opt out, later regretted it and have indicated that they would like to again be covered by the provisions of the social security tax law which includes Medicare, disability, and retirement benefits. The 1999 amendments to the Internal Revenue Code have opened a window which makes it possible for people to revoke their decision to opt out of the tax by timely filing Form 2031 no later than the due date of the taxpayers 2000 Form 1040.
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1 KINGS 19
Elisha’s mentor The lapse of Elijah: dealing with discouragement in the work of the Lord.
better script could not have been written by the best of dramatists. A solitary prophet of the Lord, roughly-clad and seemingly unknown, explodes on the stage of history and fearlessly declares before wicked King Ahab and his courtiers: “No more rain until I say!” (see 1 Ki. 17:1). Then, led by God, he withdraws to a place of obscurity where the Lord provides for his needs through natural and supernatural means while the rest of the nation suffers a time of famine. Later, encountering Ahab again, he boldly refutes his accusation that it was Elijah who had effected Israel’s present crisis. With all the elements of an epic drama, Elijah then calls for a confrontation—a supernatural showdown between the prophets of Baal against the true God of Israel. On Mount Carmel, he invites Ahab’s prophets to prepare their sacrifice and mocks them openly when their frenzied efforts to call down fire from heaven are met with failure. Elijah now takes center stage. Repairing the altar of the Lord, he puts the wood in order and then mysteriously requests that the altar be drenched with water—not once or twice but three times! Calling on the God of his fathers, he prays down fire from heaven, consuming the sacrifice, wood, stones, water, dust and all. Then, apprehending the false prophets, he has them executed at the brook Kishon. To top it all off, he returns to Carmel with his servant, where he repeatedly prays for the rain to return on the drought-stricken land.
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Seven times he persists in prayer before God answers. But his perseverance pays off and the skies open. Here was a real man of God—a faithful and fearless servant of the Lord in the midst of unfaithfulness! Who could exceed his spiritual exploits? What could possibly stop him now from doing even bigger and better things in the name of the Lord? “Nothing!” we might say— until we come to the events recorded in 1 Kings 19. Outrunning Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel, Elijah would soon be in for a big surprise—in which he learned the painful lesson that underneath his bold achievements for the Lord were some underlying attitudes of self-righteousness, anger, self-pity and pride. What followed was a turn of events detailing Elijah’s personal slide from the pinnacle of triumph to the nadir of discouragement. It is the record of Elijah’s personal lapse of faith that culminated in an episode of severe depression that temporarily crippled this champion of the faith— all because of his failure to check a mounting frustration brought on by lofty and unrealized expectations. God’s gentle but firm dealings with this committed, but agitated servant of the Lord reminds us well of the pitfalls that we need to avoid in our labors for the Lord. It seems that the first step downward in Elijah’s spiritual descent was brought on by a lack of faith. After hearing about Jezebel’s threat to take his life, the Scriptures record that he ran for his life, heading toward Beersheba. Previously, Elijah fearlessly stood before King Ahab on at
Horeb (Sinai) at sunrise least two occasions and before at least 850 false prophets on Mt. Carmel (1 Ki. 18:19). But now he was running. What had changed? Certainly Jezebel was a fearful personality who was rightly regarded as a detrimental influence on God’s people, but why should that have intimidated Elijah? She was only one person. The answer seems to be in the way God described Elijah’s response to Jezebel’s threat. It was after “when he saw that...” that he feared and fled. This most certainly was the source of the problem—an inward, yet perceptible shift away from the walk of faith. That which he had so clearly exhibited on previous occasions had now dissipated and given way to sight. And with its disappearance went his courage. Why now? Perhaps it was due to the fact that Elijah had expended a tremendous amount of energy in the previous few days, culminating with outrunning Ahab’s chariot to Jezreel. The physical demands of his service had taken their toll spiritually and
ELISHA’S MENTOR Elijah fled in fear of his life. How aptly the contemporary adage applies: “Fear makes cowards of us all.” Every servant of Christ continually needs to be reminded that fervency in the work of the Lord, though urged from the Scriptures, can also leave us vulnerable to spiritual exhaustion if we look at present circumstances and are not careful in maintaining the life of faith. Another step of Elijah leading to his eclipse of faith was due to a lack of fellowship. After hearing Jezebel’s threat, Elijah ran to Beersheba and “left his servant there” (19:3). Elijah cut his ties with a trusted friend and aide—a very dangerous move in the service of the Lord. Why he chose to do this we do not know, but it was another evidence that Elijah was backsliding in his heart and filled with his own ways (Prov. 14:14), abandoning the last vestige of a multitude of counselors. Now alone, Elijah retreated further by journeying into the wilderness—always the venue of trial and testing. How foolish to cut oneself off from the help of those who care the most! Yet it is a common reaction when our spiritual perspective has been skewed by “circumstances.” Seeking the shade of a juniper tree, the root of bitterness in Elijah’s heart was now partly exposed. (Watch out for those “rest” stops and shady areas during the time of testing, 1 Ki. 13:14; Jn. 4) Out gushed Elijah’s self-pity in the form of a “prayer” asking God to take his life. Mercifully, God did not answer this pitiful request, but instead graciously provided for His servant in spite of his undeserving condition. We too, need to be careful that we do not “go it alone” as Elijah did
when in a spiritual quandary. After God faithfully provided him bread and water— the same provisions during his days at Zarephath— Elijah continued his aimless wanderings for 40 days, accomplishing nothing for the Lord during that time. At last he reached Horeb where the Lord came to him and asked what he was doing there. Elijah clearly evidenced a lack of forbearance toward the nation of Israel, another step down into his slough of despondency. In so many words, Elijah complained that he was the only one left who was truly committed to the Lord. He was convinced that he was the last one in Israel who maintained true godliness and commitment. “There was no one as committed as me!” could have been his cry. Never mind the servant he left behind before he journeyed into the wilderness, or the people who cried out on Carmel “the Lord, He is God, the Lord He is God,” or those who followed his instruction to seize the false prophets and have them executed at the brook Kishon. No, Elijah was too self-absorbed to recall those evidences of commitment, however pale in comparison to his. Rather than forbearing with the nation of Israel as God had done, Elijah looked for immediate results from his efforts among the people and was sorely disappointed when he did not see them. What Elijah needed was a healthy dose of forbearance to counterbalance the disappointment he felt. Could this apply to us in some way—when our ambitious, even intense efforts to serve the Lord and “to make a difference” are met with a casual response at best? We need to remember that we serve the Lord for
Passing on the Torch by Hamilton Smith Elisha returns to the land that Elijah had left. The curse was there; widows are in need; hunger and famine are in the land; enemies oppose and death is over all. Into this scene of sin and ruin Elisha comes with power from on high, to display, in the midst of a dark world, the grace of heaven that can meet the need of man. Thus it comes to pass as Elisha passes on his way, that the curse is removed; the needs of
the widow are met; the barren woman becomes fruitful; the dead are raised; evil is averted; the hungry are fed; the leper is healed; enemies are baffled and defeated; earth’s famine yields before heaven’s plenty; and out of death there comes forth life. www.uplook.org • JULY-AUGUST 2000
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The MAN of GOD
Elisha by Doré
better or worse, no matter what the results. But this was only one of the lessons that Elijah needed to learn. There was still another, yet more painful one to come. After instructing Elijah to go out and stand upon the mountain, the Lord would soon make His presence known to His frustrated servant. Occurring as it did at Horeb—Sinai, the place where the law had been delivered at the hand of Moses—we would expect to see Elijah act with promptness. But instead there was an apparent delay on Elijah’s part. First, a strong wind tore into the mountain. Then an earthquake occurred, followed by a fire. Though powerful manifestations of the approaching presence of the Lord, none of these things moved the sullen prophet. Finally, a still small voice was heard, and with that Elijah “went out” and stood at the entrance of the cave. Strange that this great prophet of the Lord was so dilatory in his response! Was he not the one who had expected instant obedience by the people to the words of the Lord on Mt. Carmel? But why hadn’t he responded quickly to the words of the Lord? Weren’t his brave and bold efforts for the Lord proof enough that God was in the midst—unmistakable manifestation of His power and presence? Why then did he not obey when God made His presence and power known to him on top of this mountain? Perhaps Elijah had not realized that he too had a few areas in his life that had not been yielded to the Lord, even though he was calling upon others to yield their lives in complete obedience. And perhaps this is the most powerful lesson that issues from this account. Many a servant of the Lord, truly passionate in their work for Christ, may actually be harboring hidden attitudes of pride and self-righteousness (perhaps even hidden to them) which will surface in time when the conditions are “right” and when their ministry expectations are unfulfilled. Hidden also from sight, as it was from Elijah, is the army of loyal, committed believers whose spiritual work, though relatively unnoticed, is important and effectual just the same. Elijah had to learn these lessons the hard way as well as the truth that entreating others to obedience comes many times from the appeal of a still, small voice over against the bold, powerful declarations that characterized his ministry. Contrary to Elijah’s thoughts, his ministry was far from over as God made clear to him. There would be the need for him to disciple the sons of the prophets and train Elisha to carry on the work. What a shame if Elijah’s ministry had concluded at Horeb! May we also learn the important lessons of humble, loving, and patient service for the Lord and skirt the spiritual quagmire that Elijah experienced.
There is no glory halo Round his devoted head, No luster marks the sacred path In which his footsteps tread; Yet holiness is graven Upon his thoughtful brow, And unto God and God alone His high-born soul shall bow. He often is peculiar And seldom understood, And yet his power is felt by both The evil and the good; For he lives in touch with heaven A life of faith and prayer; His sympathies, his hopes, his joys— His all is centered there. He is a chosen servant Among God’s many sons; He bears His sayings on his lips, And on His errands runs. No human frown he feareth, No earthly praise he seeks; But in the dignity of Heav’n His burning message speaks. —William Blane
ELIJAH & ELISHA
Two men: one mission Elijah’s ministry helped to expose the need; Elisha’s helped meet it.
ever in the course of Israel’s history had the moral condition of the nation been so low as in the reign of Ahab. Of this weak and wicked man we read, he “did evil in the sight of the Lord above all that were before him.” The law was broken; the worship of idols was all but universal; men bowed down to the golden calves at Bethel and Dan; false prophets conducted their rites in Jehovah’s land. Under the leadership of the king and his wife, the nation had apostatized from Jehovah, and proved itself ripe for judgment. Nevertheless, God lingered over this judgment-doomed nation. Instead of overwhelming the people with the judgment they deserved, God sent Elijah to expose their condition and recall them to Himself. The life and miracles of Elijah were one long witness against the nation’s utter apostasy from the moral law and the worship of Jehovah. The years of drought, the fire from heaven, the destruction of the prophets of Baal, the judgment of the captains and their fifties, the doom pronounced against the king in the vineyard of Naboth, and the letter to the apostate king of Judah, foretelling a coming plague, were all solemn denunciations of prevailing evils. Alas! the ministry of Elijah only brought to light the utter ruin of the nation in its responsibility. It clearly showed not only that the nation had broken the law and sunk into idolatry, but that prophecy—which recalls a failing people to God—was entirely powerless to effect any restoration. In spite of a ministry accompanied by the warning signs of a
famine on earth and fire from heaven, the prophet of God was rejected by a blinded nation. Having fulfilled his ministry, the faithful but rejected prophet forsook the land by way of Jordan —the river of death—and was taken to heaven by a whirlwind. Thus, as far as Israel was concerned, all was over. The nation had utterly failed to secure or maintain the blessing of God on the ground of the fulfillment of its responsibilities. Apparently nothing remained but the execution of the judgment they deserve. Here, however, we are permitted to see the wonders of the ways of God. For God uses the wickedness of man to disclose the resources of His own heart. Man had utterly failed, and God had shown that He is not indifferent to sin. In His own time He must act in judgment. Nevertheless, God reserves to Himself His sovereign rights of grace. Thus, instead of cutting off the nation in judgment, God fell back on His sovereign grace. On the one hand, He secured for Himself a
remnant that had not bowed to Baal; on the other hand, He sent to a guilty nation a ministry of grace for every one who had faith to avail himself of it. This ministry, being one of grace, could not be confined to the bounds of Israel. Its source laid outside the land, and, while sent to Israel, was available to the Gentile. Elisha was the chosen vessel to carry this new ministry to a ruined world. As one has said, Elisha “completes by a ministry of grace in the power of life what Elijah had begun in righteousness against idolatry.” Thus it becomes manifest that the ministry of Elisha wears an entirely different character to that of his great forerunner. Moreover, the manner of life of the two prophets, while in keeping with their respective ministries, was of necessity wholly different. Elijah led a life, for the most part, remote from the haunts of men; Elisha moved among the masses, on familiar terms with his fellowmen. Elijah was found by lonely streams, in desert ways and mountain caves; Elisha was found in the cities of men, and the camps of kings. Elijah was entertained by a humble widow of Zerephath; Elisha was the guest of the rich woman of Shunem. These differences of life were beautiful in their season. It was fitting that the one who has been rightly described as “the sworn enemy of all persons and institutions which interfered with the honor of the Lord God of Israel” should lead a life of strict separation from the nation that he so sternly condemned. Equally right that the one whose great mission is to declare the mercy of God
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TWO MEN: ONE MISSION to a guilty world, should freely move among men. Nevertheless, the prophets were alike in their holy separation from the evils of the times. If Elisha moves among his fellows as the intimate of kings and, at times, the companion of the great of the earth, he is wholly apart from the evil of their lives. He brings mercy to the guilty but walks apart from their guilt. He enriches others with the blessings of heaven, though content to remain a poor man on earth. As another has so truly said, “It was for others he occupied his resources and strength in God. He was rich, but not for himself. Thus he meets the inconveniences of nature; without a purse he relieves the poor; without a commissariat he feeds armies; the deadly thing he makes harmless; without bread he gives food to a multitude, and gathers fragments; without medicine he heals disease; without armies or soldiers, he defeats enemies; in famine he supplies a nation; though dead he communicates life.” May we not add that, in all these shining ways of grace, Elisha is leading our thoughts to that far greater One who became poor that we through His poverty might be rich. In the spirit of Elijah, the great forerunner of Christ had dwelt in desert places, there to bring to light a godly remnant, and there to denounce the evils of a wicked and adulterous generation. Thus he prepared the way of the Lord, who, as the Son of Man, came “eating and drinking” with the children of men, as He moved among the needy crowds, dispensing the grace of God in a ruined world. Elisha is first brought to our notice in the Lord’s charge to Elijah, in the day of the prophet’s despondency. Disappointed at the failure of his mission, embittered against the professing people of God, and occupied with himself. Elijah had, spoken well of himself and nothing but evil of God’s people. He imagined that he alone was standing for God, and that the entire nation was against him, seeking his life to take it away. Elijah has to learn that the Lord has other instruments to carry out His government; other servants to maintain a witness; and, among the Lord’s people, seven thousand that have not bowed the knee to Baal. Thus Elijah has to retrace his steps from Horeb and anoint Elisha, the son of Shaphat, as prophet in his room. How often in our day, with its increasing corruption, we, with our limited outlook, may be led to imagine that the work of God depends on one or two devoted servants of the Lord, and that with their removal all testimony for the Lord will cease. We have to learn that though servants pass, God remains, and has other servants in preparation. Unknown to us, God has His hidden ones who have not bowed to prevailing evils.
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In obedience to the Lord’s word, Elijah departs from Horeb to seek Elisha. The one chosen to take the place of the prophet is not found among the great men of the earth. In choosing His servants God is not restricted to the great and noble. He may indeed employ the rich and the learned, kings and priests, as He sees fit. But at times He pours contempt on all our pride by taking up a man from the humblest walks of life to perform the highest spiritual service. He can use a little maid to bless a great man; He can take a lad from the sheepfolds to be the leader of His people Israel; He can use the betrothed of a carpenter to bring into this scene the Saviour of the world; and having, brought the Saviour into the world, He can use some lowly fishermen to turn the world upside down. Thus He calls a simple farmer from following the plow to be the prophet of his age. Moreover, those that God calls to His service are not idle, ease-loving men of the world. Elisha is patiently pursuing his calling “plowing with twelve yoke of oxen before him, and he with the twelfth,” when the call comes. So David, in an earlier day, was keeping the sheep when called to be king. And the disciples of a later day were casting their nets into the sea, or mending nets, when called to follow the King of kings. It is upon this busy man that Elijah casts his mantle, an act that may signify that Elisha is called to take the place, exhibit the character, and act in the spirit of its owner. And thus the spiritual instincts of Elisha would appear to interpret the act, for we read, “He left the oxen and ran after Elijah.” If, however, there is a divinely given readiness to follow Elijah, there is a natural reluctance to leave his loved ones. So he can say, “Let, me, I pray thee, kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow thee.” Elijah’s answer throws the responsibility of responding to God’s call entirely upon Elisha. “Go back again,” he says, “for what have I done to thee?” He will use neither force nor command. No pressure shall be put on Elisha: he is left to discern the import of Elijah’s action, and he is free to “go back” to his loved ones, or go forward with the rejected and persecuted prophet. If Elisha’s actions betray some looking back to the things that are behind, they also prove him to be an overcomer that celebrates his surrender of his things by providing a feast for others. In his day, as one has remarked, he sold what he had and gave to the poor. Having thus finished with his earthly calling, “he arose, and went after Elijah, and ministered unto him.” The man that until then had patiently pursued the daily round, toiling in the field, is now to be prepared to show forth the wonders of God’s grace by following Elijah as his servant and companion.
W. W. FEREDAY
2 KINGS 4:1-7
The pot of oil Powerlessness, if not dealt with, leads to bondage.
n 2 Kings 3 we have Elisha ministering to the necessities of kings; in chapter 4:1-7, he ministers to a widow and her sons, for there is room in the divine compassions for both the exalted and the lowly. Remarkably both Elijah and Elisha had dealings with a widow, and in each case a little oil in a vessel constituted an important item in their worldly possessions. “Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear Jehovah: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondsmen” (2 Ki. 4:1). A pitiful story is here, a story suggestive of the meditations which drove Asaph to the very verge of infidelity (Ps. 73). That the godly should suffer while the ungodly prosper has frequently been a sore puzzle to tried hearts. In the present case the widow laid emphasis on the fact that her husband feared Jehovah, yet he had been snatched from her by death, with no legacy but debts, slavery for her children being the only possible result, so far as the eye could see.
Unbelief is apt to cry in such circumstances, “All these things are against me” (Gen. 42:36); faith quietly says, “We know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to purpose” (Rom. 5:28). The greater the emergency, the greater the opportunity for God to
show Himself on behalf of His people. When the men of Israel magnified the prowess of the nations of Canaan, Joshua and Caleb, true men of faith, said, “They are bread for us…Jehovah is with us; fear them not” (Num. 14:9). Bread indeed! for every difficulty surmounted by faith in God yields strength and nourishment to the soul. Our wonder-working God is able to make the eater yield meat, and the strong one sweetness (Jud. 14:14). It is a great reality to have to do with 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). The widow of our chapter proved the truth of this most blessedly. Let us note that in her trouble she sought the aid of “the man of God.” This is a title more frequently applied to Elisha than to any other person named in Holy Scripture. Seventy times we read of “the man of God” in the Old Testament, twenty-two of the passages referring to Elisha. What are we to understand by the title? Is it the equivalent of “saint,” and therefore applicable to every man born of the Spirit? The Spirit’s sparing use of
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The POT of OIL the term forbids the thought. It is first applied to Moses in Deuteronomy 33:1. This gives us the key to its meaning. Moses was one who cut himself entirely adrift from the world, renouncing all its honors and advantages in order that he might be wholly for God. Only persons of this camp may rightly be regarded as men of God. In the midst of general ruin and departure, the man of God is God’s emergency instrument. It is open to us all to be in this blessed position, if so our hearts desire. The Church in these days needs men of God. But what did Elisha have for the distressed widow? Nothing, as far as his own resources were concerned, yet he more than met her need. He could have said with the apostle, “As poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things” (2 Cor. 6:10). What have we with which to meet the need of souls? The amount contained in our pockets is a small matter; the question is, what have we in our hearts? Blessed be God, we have enshrined there that which is capable of meeting every form of human necessity. “For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ” (2 Cor. 4:6). Our hearts have thus been illuminated by the knowledge of God, and from us that knowledge should radiate to others. Here lies an immense opportunity for spiritual usefulness in a dreary world. But Elisha asked the woman, “What hast thou in the house?” She replied, “Thine handmaid hath not anything in the house, save a pot of oil.” But there was great potential in the pot of oil, though the widow did not know it. Whatever else we lack, every Christian has his pot of oil. In other words, every Christian has the power of the Spirit within him. Let us use it in faith, and all our difficulties become as nothing. So the widow must beg empty vessels of her neighbors—not a few. “And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels….” Picture the scene in that humble house. What had the widow to look on that day? Just a pot of oil, a number of empty receptacles, and two poor orphans earmarked for slavery. This was what the eye saw; but there was
Testimony to others, however important, is not everything.
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something else that no natural sight could behold. In Matthew 6:1-18 we are taught that the Father’s eye is on us, and in verses 19-34 that our eye should, in consequence, be solely on Him. In this is rest. Now observe a remarkable thing. The oil flowed while a vessel remained to take it. It was only when the son said “there is not a vessel more” that the oil stopped. What a lesson here! The blessing is limited by man only. In chapter 3 the kings obtained water according to the depth of the ditches that were prepared. In chapter 13:18 Joash, King of Israel, missed the opportunity of his life, when in the presence of the dying prophet, and with full knowledge that the actions of that day were significant, he smote on the ground three times only. This meant three victories over his enemies instead of total annihilation. Alas! It is always man who limits the blessing. “Oft we credit not, that God e’er gives as God.” But the widow’s need was now met, so the prophet bade her “Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest.” Brethren, we have a debt to discharge, which only the power of the Spirit can enable us to do. Paul felt this deeply in Romans 1:14: “I am debtor both to the Greeks and to the Barbarians; both to the wise and to the unwise.” How he paid the debt is described in Romans 15:19, “Through mighty signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God, so that from Jerusalem and round about unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.” How far have we entered into the spirit of the devoted apostle, as expressed in these words? The cold principle of formal ministerialism has doubtless damaged the zeal of many a child of God. What is needed is to get our souls so divinely full of the things that we profess to believe that our lips must speak. Like Peter and John when they said to the Jewish council, “We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:20). Like Paul again, when he exclaimed in 2 Corinthians 4:13, “We believe, and therefore speak.” Men who are profoundly convinced of the Christian truths, and who are persuaded of men’s deep need of the knowledge of them, will surely seek to “pay their debt.” And for this the power of the Spirit is divinely sufficient. But Elisha added: “Live thou and thy children of the rest.” Testimony to others, however important, is not everything. There is a life to be lived, with all its hard facts and varied circumstances. For this none of us possesses the smallest power in ourselves. But the Spirit is more than enough. He enables us to worship, suffer, and bear fruit at all seasons. “Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh” (Gal. 5:16).
J. G. BELLETT
2 KINGS 5:1-27
Naaman the Syrian Are not Abana and Pharpar better? Naaman was welcome to try them.
n Naaman we get man at his best without God. He must have been the world’s envy, the great favorite of the day. He was made much of by everyone, by the king himself, and all the nation. The Lord, in endowments and providence, had greatly blessed him. But “he was a leper.” There was a stain on all his glory which no hand but God’s could remove. Let the world flatter him as it might, it was a constant witness that all was not right. And such is man. Let him have every advantage in circumstances, or set off by embellishments and attractions, there is a witness against him still. He carries it in himself; he is conscious of it, though he may be silent about it. In the little captive, whom we next see, we get just the opposite of Naaman. All was against her in circumstances. She had been dragged from friends and home, and was a bond-servant in a stranger’s land: but she carried a secret, the very opposite of Naaman’s secret. She had the witness of God for her, as he had His witness against him. She knew the healing, while he felt the sore. This was a mighty difference—all the difference, if God is considered. To have Him for and not against us, is surely the grand secret after all. So it is with every true Israelite like her. In the knowledge of the same secret, in the knowledge of the healing of God, they can say, “If God be for me, who can be against me!” She reminds one of Paul before Festus and Agrippa. There the apostle was poor in circumstances, but rich in God, and, like this dear
young captive, desired all good for those who had bound him. These are valuable lessons in this parable. But we have others. The king of Syria is next introduced; and he represents man in his loftiness of thought and self-esteem, even in religion. He judges that for the divine healing of his favorite captain, his own resources and great influence must be used. Who but the king was the language of his heart. He therefore prepares his silver, his gold, and his raiment, and writes a letter with his own hand on this business to the king of Israel—a king to a king. For nothing less than such patronage can give fair promise. All this is man’s thoughts about God’s ways. But there is nothing that the king of Syria does that is not simply “labor lost.” His own personal patronage and gifts, and the countenance he sought of a brother king, all is vanity. Is it not always the thought of the natural man that the “gift of God” has in some way to be purchased? If not exactly “purchased with money,” as Simon
Magus thought, yet by some compensation on our part by which God may be induced to bestow the gift. The king of Israel, however, who had the advantage of God’s revelation in his country, refuses to act his part, in this purpose of the king of Syria. There is one higher than the king in all this, though the Syrian knows nothing of him. Elisha had, of course, passed the notice of this great man of the earth. But Elisha, who is now also, in turn, introduced to us, is Naaman’s only hope in the day of his leprosy. And Elisha, conscious that the power of God was with him, makes no stir, or difficulty, as the king had done. He has not, like One afterwards, the authority of his own word to cleanse away the stain, but he is in the secret of God’s ordained remedy, and can, with authority, preach that to the leper. Here we notice how Jesus shines above all. When the leper comes to Him, it is not as with the king, “Am I God, that I should heal a man of his leprosy?” nor as with the prophet, “Go wash in Jordan, and be clean.” No; He reveals Himself as having the power of God. “I will; be thou clean.” Elisha was but a preacher to Naaman; Jesus was the cleansing, the healing God. Elisha did not venture to touch the leper. This would have defiled him. But Jesus “put forth His hand and touched him;” for Jesus could consume and not contract the defilement. Now watch the poor convicted leper passing through his cleansing. At first, nature is strong in Naaman. He resents the remedy which grace had provided—a remedy most sim-
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NAAMAN the SYRIAN ple, but most humbling. So simple that there was no mistaking it, and no difficulty in applying it; saving, indeed, the difficulty which man’s pride and previous thoughts had opposed to it. And these give battle at once. Grace, however, can plead with such a slow reluctant heart. Grace can use a ministry, as well as open a fountain, for sinners. And that ministry, like the remedy, is simple and artless. Naaman’s servants, in their way, met the risings of nature in their master, and their ministry is blest; the proffered fountain is tried, its virtues are proved, and the flesh that was leprous became like that of a little child. It is more than restoration. It is resurrection. He dies and lives again, he is buried and rises again, and comes forth, not merely as a healed, but a new creature. And what is the fruit of this new condition in which he finds himself? Here we trace the parable still, and get the principle of God’s way still illustrated. 1. He stands before Elisha with all his company. It is not now the proud, but the humble, Naaman. Sweet fruit this of the new man that Naaman had become! He had been led to take the way of humility to be washed; he now takes the place of humility before the God of Israel, because he is washed. 2. He makes a goodly confession to the only God. He takes Him for his God: he had learned Him through the health and salvation He had given him. And this is the way that the new creature ever learns Him—the only way He can be learned, or known, in this world. 3. He presses his gifts, whatever he had, on the prophet—not now, as the king his master thought, to purchase the healing, but because of the healing. He had been forgiven, and therefore he loved. He was relieved and happy, and therefore he could be generous. 4. He will henceforth know no other God—he seeks materials to raise Him an altar. God must be his God, even in the midst of infidel Syria, where he is returning. Him and Him only will he worship. For this “mule’s burden of earth” was to bear witness that a citizen of that country belonged to the God of Israel—like Ruth the Moabitess, trusting under His wings. 5. He gets a renewed conscience, sensitive of the least, even apparent, departure from the God who had blessed him. He dreads the appearance of evil. He would not have it thought that any attendance of his on his master was recurring to the old principles of the house of Rimmon. Such he had left forever, through God’s grace, and would now, at the very entrance of his new creation in Christ Jesus, enter a protestation against everything that might even look otherwise. Naaman feels an inconsistency to be found in the temple of
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Rimmon where his position is required, But God’s grace through His prophet waits on faith’s fuller development. The prophet sends him away in peace. This narrative which occupies an important place in the ministry of Elisha, and is the scene referred to by his divine Master afterwards (Lk. 4), is one of extensive value to us. Let us, with all simplicity of heart, assure ourselves that all was written for our learning—that our God has from the beginning been allowing things to happen to others, that we might be admonished and comforted by them, through the records which His Spirit has given us of them. But there is one other object in this scene to observe: Gehazi. The prophet (v. 26) does not challenge him on the ground of his having lied to Naaman, but on quite another form of evil in his conduct. And there is, I believe, great force in this. “Is it a time,” says Elisha, “to receive money, and to receive garments, and oliveyards and vineyards, and sheep and oxen, and men servants and maid servants?” This was an ingredient in the sin which belonged to the Spirit to notice—the lie was of common moral apprehension. The Gentile had just been learning the grace of the God of Israel. The silver, gold and raiment had been despised by the prophet, and Naaman was bearing back all, to the utmost “shoe-latchet.” He had gone to the waters without money and without price, and was witness that the gift of God was not to be purchased. How terrible, then, to have this testimony confounded. Well might the prophet ask, Is this a time to take the Syrian’s money? Could anything be more grievous to the Spirit? The lie was abominable—first to Naaman, and then to Elisha. But what shall we say of this sad counter-testimony, this clouding of the brightness of the grace of God? This was the offense which the Spirit noticed, and the prophet challenged. Gehazi had sold the honor of the rich and free grace of the Lord to the reproaches of an injurious world. His money must therefore perish with him. He must be put outside the borders of the camp; for he who could thus falsify the God of Israel was unfit to be of the Israel of God. This is the serious feature in this otherwise happy picture. This part of the story, however, brings out what, on the other hand, is encouraging—that the soul of the Syrian, on his journey to his distant home, has not lost the generosity of that first hour. He alights at once on seeing the prophet’s servant behind him, and without suspicion or reserve, lays his treasures at the servant’s feet, as he had, at the first moment, offered to do at the master’s! Oh that on our journey the power of the first hour, the fervor of first love, may continue to be felt!
CALL in the TROOPS
Open the young man’s eyes What are the odds of victory? No odds. It’s a sure thing.
n 2 Kings 6, Israel’s inveterate enemy, the king of Syria, had planned by wicked stealth to destroy them. But Elisha, God’s prophet, forewarned Israel’s king of the evil devices of his adversary so that the nation was delivered. Then Elisha seemed to retire into the obscurity of one of those many seasons of quiet communion with his God that so often intervened between the higher lights of his public testimony. The king of Syria, baffled at the mysterious frustration of his well laid plans, sent spies to find Elisha. They found him in Dothan, and that is quite striking in itself. It calls to our memory at once Joseph, that beloved servant of God of many years before. When he was a lad of seventeen, Joseph was sent by his father to search out his brethren. In his lonely quest after their welfare, he found them at long last in Dothan. It was there that they so cruelly abused him, and sold him as a slave to the Midianites. Perhaps Elisha and his servant, as they rested among the quiet hills in the little city of Dothan, remembered that this town had been made famous because of Joseph and his brethren. ELISHA PRAYED Early one morning, as the golden sunlight splashed its rosy hues across the eastern horizon beyond the hills, Elisha’s servant stepped from the threshold of their humble dwelling to find to his astonishment that the city was surrounded by a host of Syrian warriors determined to destruction him and his master. He ran to Elisha and said, “Alas, my
master, how shall we do?” Then his master, with that easy grace and calm courage that characterizes the true servants of God, answered the trembling young man in these magnificent words: “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” A look of incredulous astonishment must have come across the face of the young man as he heard these strange words from the lips of his master. As far as the eye could see around the city, there was an armed host of belligerent enemies with no sign of a friend anywhere. “Fear not,” said Elisha, “they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” But words alone were small consolation before the impelling force of the sight of all those enemies, and Elisha was not unsympathetic for the fear and dread that possessed his beloved follower. Then the scripture says so beautifully: “Elisha prayed.” He did not pray for deliverance from his enemies because he knew that was sure. His prayer was on behalf of the young man, that the Lord would find a ready means of centering his confidence in Jehovah. Elisha said, “Lord, I pray Thee, open his eyes that he may see.” And
the Lord opened the eyes of the young man and he saw: “and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” “FEAR NOT” In this wonderfully dramatic episode we have a scene which sets out in great grandeur some of the most encouraging truths for Christian hearts today. The devil, our arch enemy, has gathered his forces of belligerent power to surround the Christian camp at this very hour. His intention is to attack our faith. We are living in the last days when Satan is making one grand assault, not only on the citadel of Christian truth, but upon the people of God themselves. His passion is that he might destroy finally and completely every vestige of testimony for Christ from the earth. He has managed to create confusion and chaos in the world at large; the cruel scourge of war’s fear is laid across the backs of the nations; international tension is near the breaking point, but Satan’s one great desire, which tops everything else, is that he might destroy all Christian testimony. These are the days in which we find ourselves. We look across the spiritual landscape
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OPEN the YOUNG MAN’S EYES and we see our “city of Dothan,” the city of Joseph and his brethren, of Elisha and his servant, of Christ and His people, surrounded on every hand by the forces of Satan, ready to do battle against us. Much like Elisha’s servant, we tremble at the sight. Yet we also have an “Elisha” to whom we can go. The Elisha of today sits on the throne of God on high, and as we come to Him, trembling and in fear sometimes, we hear His blessed words: “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” In the words of our Lord: “In the world ye shall have tribulation, but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” “What shall we say then to these things; if God be for us, who can be against us?” And “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” He who sits on heaven’s throne tells us with deepest affection as His voice comes to us through the shadows: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give unto you; not as the world giveth, give I unto you, let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” And, “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the age.” These are but the living echoes of Elisha’s words to his servant in the town of Dothan: “Fear not, for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” Not only did Elisha speak the reassuring word, but he retired to his chamber, and kneeled before the Lord and prayed for the young man, asking the Lord to open his eyes. How similar this is to the present session of our Lord Himself, our Great High Priest, who has gone into the peace and quiet of those celestial regions where “He ever liveth to make intercession for us.” OUR GREAT HIGH PRIEST There was an occasion in the life of Simon Peter when the devil and his legions surrounded him that they might make a grand assault on the citadel of his faith, just as the host of Syrians surrounded the town where Elisha and his servant lived. But the Lord said to Simon: “Satan hath desired to have you that he may sift you as wheat; but I have prayed for thee that thy faith fail not; and when thou are restored, strengthen thy brethren” (Lk. 22:31-32). How the devil must have laughed with complacent and evil delight when he heard poor Peter deny his Lord with oaths and curses! The battle was going against him that night as he sat in the courtyard at the high priest’s house and told them with ugly and unseemly language that he never knew the Man called Jesus. It seemed a great triumph for Satan to have this trembling disciple disown his Lord, but Jesus had prayed for him and the time came when the restored Peter stood valiantly on
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the day of Pentecost. Then it was his turn then to make a grand assault on the citadel of Satan’s domain. In Acts 2, Peter stood up fearlessly amid the thousands who had flocked to Jerusalem that they might hear about this One called Jesus who had died and had risen from the dead. Then Peter gathered together all the armaments of the power of the Spirit of God and discharged a broadside salvo on the forces of wickedness, making such inroads on their battlements that he carried away three thousand prisoners into the camp of the Lord in one day. The devil’s temporary victory was turned into defeat and disorderly retreat, and Simon, the faltering, failing disciple who had denied his Lord, stood on the field of battle with three thousand new converts gathered around him as a witness that has shone like the noonday sun through the centuries. “They that be with us are more than they that be with them.” ROUND ABOUT ELISHA The priestly service of our Lord is still available to us at present, but we do not properly estimate its value. Jesus the Christ, the Son of God has risen from the dead, the mighty Victor. All who stand by His side, as the servant stood by Elisha’s side, will be victorious. Elisha prayed for his servant. Jesus the Lord prayed for Simon Peter, and right now our Lord and Saviour, seated at the right hand of God on high, is praying for us. Not that we might be saved from defeat, because in Him we are already victorious. His prayer, like that of Elisha, is: “Open his eyes, that he may see.” When the young man’s eyes were opened, he looked around. His vision had been shortsighted and blurred before, so that he was unable to see beyond the heads of the host that surrounded the city in which he stood. But now he looked beyond with divine perception to the hills that skirted the valley, and saw them alive with horses and chariots of fire, round about Elisha. Notice that expression, “round about Elisha.” As long as the young man stayed close to Elisha there could be no question of his safety, for that armed host of divine might found its center in Elisha. The young man’s place of safety was by the side of his master, even as our place of safety is by the side of Christ our Lord. Let us look beyond the murky fog that enswathes the earth about us, being less occupied with the devil’s prowess as he makes his assault on us from every hand in the world today. Let us look instead to the empyrean hills of heaven and see the celestial heights, peopled with a vast army of divine emmisaries, and say with God-given confidence: “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
F. W. KRUMMACHER
2 KINGS 4:38-41
Death in the pot We can be so fussy about what we put in our stomachs but not in our souls.
ho never saw death, and yet died? To be dead without having seen death seems absurd. Yet the question is not as foolish as it seems. Are there really persons who have died, although their dying hour has not arrived? You are of the number if you have put on Christ. It is to you the apostle addresses the words in Colossians 3:3, “Ye are dead.” You have survived yourself; you stood by your dying bed and are able to visit your own grave. You reply, “Where did I die?” Do you really not know? It is the mount on which your Head suffered death. The Scriptures call those who belong to Christ “crucified with Him,” and dead and buried with Him. Look to Calvary. What is it there that falls upon the Holy One of Israel? It comes like a monster on the wings of night. It comes with a thousand terrors and torments; the wrath of the Almighty is its escort; exulting devils are in its train. It can do as it pleases with the Man on the cross. No consoling angel stands at His side; no shield from on high defends Him against this rage. He is forsaken of God and of all the world. What hideous monster is this? Death is its name. And whose is the death which Christ dies? It is not His; it is your death and mine. We therefore endured it in Him. We are dead in Him, legally dead—so dead that we now see our old man inscribed in the book of the dead, and reckon him as no longer existing in the sight of God. This is the ground on which we triumphantly exclaim, “Death, where is thy sting! Grave, where is
thy victory!” If we firmly occupied this position on the rock of truth, we should see the horrors of death and the grave dispelled. Death lies behind us. “We are dead.” The narrative in 2 Kings 4:38-41 presents this picture for our help. On the road to Gilgal we meet the man of God, Elisha. You know the town of Gilgal; it lay in the vale of Jordan, not far from Jericho. Here stood a school of the prophets in the midst of a degraded and idolatrous race.
From Gilgal we accompanied Elijah to his crowning festival in the desert. A dreadful dearth has befallen the land. The fields lie scorched, as if under the curse; the sickles hang rusting on the walls. Even the sons of the prophets share in the distress. Elisha enters Gilgal. The poor are in desperate straits and their wealthier fellow-citizens feel sooner inclined to ask them in mockery, “Where is now your God?” than to extend to them a helping hand. What advantage have the righteous now over the wicked? How often do we meet on earth with this strange spec-
tacle! Indeed it not infrequently happens that the children of God suffer more severely than the children of the world. Yet you need only look a little deeper into the matter to discover an infinite difference between the state of those who serve God and those who tread the path of death. How differently does the same cloud of trouble descend on you, and on those that are without! To the latter it is the shadow of death, of care, anxiety, and despair. To you, it approaches like the cloud above the ark of the covenant, in which your Lord draws near you, in order to breathe into your heart strength to endure and to whisper His consolation. Even days of trouble have their pleasing intervals which they bring disguised under the gloomy mantle of sorrow. Then the spices of the divine promises yield their perfume. Scripture passages, which in brighter days were either unheeded or unappreciated, burn now in our hemisphere, as wondrous luminaries shining brightly in our black sky. Elisha expelled care from the circle of his beloved pupils by saying to his servant, “Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets.” But there were no longer any vegetables at hand. One of the pupils, therefore, hastened out into the fields to see if he could find something even half edible. You probably think that God would have left some little plant for them. So one would imagine. “Surely He will conduct the man to the right place, and guide his hands and feet.” What is more natural than to think this? The man’s eye falls on a luxuriant
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DEATH in the POT creeper bearing healthy-looking gourds. He collects them into his vest. The poor man hasn’t made a mistake, has he? Would God, whose child he is, permit it? He hastens home, and immediately begins to shred the gourd into the pot, not imagining that he was shredding poison for the pottage. Could God see this without preventing it? God allowed it to be so. But wasn’t that cruel? Hush! His name is “Wonderful.” Restrain your judgment till His ways have reached their termination. The pottage is served. The brethren take their seats unsuspectingly at the table. Are they divinely warned? No, the Lord permits it. But scarcely have they tasted the fatal food when its unhappy effects manifest themselves. They think they are enduring the pangs of death. They rise up with pitiable gestures from their seats and exclaim, “O man of God, there is death in the pot!” The most filial faith might have suffered shipwreck from such an occurrence. But when the Lord acts strangely like this toward His people, He does so primarily to prepare a place for the triumph and glorification of His delivering grace.
hat would have been the result if death had really been in the pot? In a few moments they would have sat down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob at the heavenly table, and would have been forever delivered from care and distress. But an evil cramp contracted the eye of their faith, and they saw nothing of this. The eye of unbelieving nature alone was open in them and hence they found themselves, as it were, in a masquerade, where they perceived the most friendly forms in the most horrible caricatures and disguises. If our brethren under Moses were not always able triumphantly to greet the approach of the last hour, it was pardonable in them because of the clouds which threw obscurity around it. But if we, who enjoy the opened heavens of the New Testament and the express declarations of the Saviour, can still exhibit symptoms of childish cowardice at the approach of this liberator, we surely have forgotten how we are armed against this strong man. Graves have been forced to open themselves before us in order to prove that they are only restingplaces; glorified saints have descended from heaven to earth that we might see with our eyes that death only transfers us to a better state. The world to come is not a dream but a reality, even more so than the present. But why should I describe this being armed against death as if death’s approach were a hostile attack? Is it a warlike invasion when someone draws near to break open my prison doors that I may hasten into the open air? Ought we to cling to a post when a solemn proces-
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sion is approaching to place on our heads the crown of life? And in order that our hope might have a more than sufficient basis, our own Saviour soared before our eyes, with our flesh and blood through the heavens and left behind Him the joyful assertion, “I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there ye may be also” (Jn. 14:3). It is therefore not against death that I have to prepare myself. I have only to arm myself against the devil lest he disguise the true form of death. It is, however, natural that a Christian should feel strangely when death comes knocking. What a step it is from one world into another! What a transition, in the twinkling of an eye, from the deathbed into the presence of the highly exalted Jehovah and the company of holy angels! How can he avoid feeling peculiarly at such a moment, or his heart refrain from beating highly at the approach of such a crisis? But if it beat more from any other cause than from sacred anticipation, he mistakes his position and has abandoned his post. A Christian who is unwilling to die breaks his word. What did we engage in, when we united ourselves to the Lord? The world then lost us—we even became lost to ourselves. Our prayer was, “Lord, do with me as Thou wilt!” And we yielded up body and soul to our Deliverer with an unconditional surrender. But now that He desires to avail Himself of the right over us which we have resigned to Him, and accomplish His gracious will in us, do we withdraw in fear? At our conversion, we died; at the moment of death, He graciously accepts the offering. How reasonable is it, therefore, that we should greet our dying hour as a festive season! Our dying is a being called away by God. No one dies by chance, but at the moment when he ought to die, neither sooner nor later. Our death is not a consequence of sickness or the sword, but is of God. An eternal decree regulates our entrance into life, and our departure out of it. And when your hour arrives, what takes place? A voice of love and maternal affection exclaims, “Return, ye children of men!” and who would be unwilling to obey?
eath, as you know, stands in the inventory of the things belonging to the children of God. Paul assures us that “Death is yours.” It belongs to us, not we to it. It is to me like Samson’s lion, of which it is written, “Out of the eater came forth meat, and out of the strong came forth sweetness” (Jud. 14:14). Death delivers us from sin, the most horrible of all abominations. As long as we walk here below we are connected with a dead carcass. We cannot prevent accursed thoughts from springing up in our hearts continually, as sparks from the fire. Sin, though forgiven,
DEATH in the POT still cleaves to us and oppresses us. We wish to pray; but our hearts are like a lute unstrung. We would gladly weep; but our eyes are like clouds without water. The flesh continually lusts against the spirit. Hence death is the last and best physician, who heals all our wounds, and infirmities—the sick head, and the faint and diseased heart. Sin was the parent of death; death is the grave which again swallows up sin. The death of the body annihilates the body of death. It strips us of our filthy garments in order that it may cover us with the sumptuous robe of immortality. When old Jacob saw the chariots which Joseph had sent to bring him to Goshen, it is said that the old man’s spirit revived. Such ought to be the influence on the Christian in anticipation of his last hour. Death is to him only a chariot like Elijah’s. Impelled forward by the wind of grace, it steers to golden shores. “The day of death,” says Solomon, “is better than the day of one’s birth.” It is the ascension day of the Christian, the birth day of his real life. Death is his gain, his greatest advancement, in which he rises from his weaknesses into a state of perfection and eternal brightness. Death is to the Christian a splendidly attired herald who invites him to the heavenly marriage, who escorts him where he shall behold Him without a veil. He will bask in the smile of His countenance. Every desire shall then be satisfied, every sense find sweet employment— the understanding, with the light of the most perfect wisdom; the heart, with the ability to love according to its utmost desire; the will, with the most unlimited power of accomplishment; and the whole soul, with the
delightful consciousness that these joys will never end. Hence, how little did it become the saints at Gilgal, when thinking that death had seized upon them, to utter such a cry of horror! There are other occasions when such an outcry would be quite in place. Where a path to heaven is taught us, which leads away from Calvary; where a theology seeks to establish its pretensions, which is without Christ; there we ought to shrink back with horror and exclaim, “There is death in the pot.” Poisoned dishes are then really served up; and he who allows himself to be induced to eat of it swallows down eternal death, against which there is no remedy. No table is more amply provided in the present day than the realm of literature. How it is to be regretted that this has become, in great measure, the devil’s laboratory, even when its products bear the symbol of the cross. “Death in the pot” might be inscribed on whole libraries, and the same inscription, alas! might justly be placed over the doors of many schools and churches.
ELISHA and the SHE-BEARS
et us return to Gilgal. The state of the sons of the prophets is certainly desperate. They were in want; they trusted in Him who feeds the young ravens; they exulted at their happy discovery; but it proves to be destructive poison. In eating the pernicious food, they also swallowed the germ of death to their child-
by W. Ross Rainey
Few accounts in the Bible have been more misunderstood than this one (2 Ki. 2:23-25), due to the rendering “little children” in v. 23 (KJV). It should be translated “youths” or “young men,” the word in the singular being used of Joseph at 17 (Gen. 37:2, “lad”). Bethel was the home of Jeroboam’s “calf ” and also of a group of the sons of the prophets. As a result, there must have been quite a religious tension at Bethel, and it would seem likely that it was by deliberate design that these youths taunted Elisha. What they said was not just childish rudeness. It is evident that there was a specially insulting point to the phrase “bald head.” At any rate, the expression was intended as a sneer at Elisha, God’s servant. By saying, “Go up,” they were scoffing at Elijah’s translation, taunting him to “go up” as Elijah had…Some critics have declared the punishment disproportionate to the offense, but the passage does not say that the bears killed the young men. The Hebrew word for “tare” does not mean kill or destroy. Even today judgment sometimes comes quickly on those who reject God and despise His servants. However, it is not for us to call down a curse on any who oppose the truth (Mt. 5:44; Lk. 23:34), although present-day mockers and rejectors of the gospel of God’s grace will eventually receive just punishment if they do not repent and believe (2 Pet. 3:3-7). JULY-AUGUST 2000
DEATH in the POT like confidence in the Lord; and it was this death, more than any other, which forced from them the anxious cry. Jehovah, however, had kind and faithful intentions towards them. The extremely painful situation in which they were placed was only destined to set off the more gloriously His delivering mercy. The more furious the storm, the more pleasing the sunshine afterwards. The prophet has already received his instructions. God is willing to help. If anyone rejoices at it, it is Elisha. His distress was not small, but the storm of his feelings, instead of repelling him from God, impelled him directly upwards. His confidence in the Lord told him that the brethren would not die, but live. What a loss for the world if they had; what a triumph for Satan and his idolatrous adherents! Doubtless, the alarming cry, “There is death in the pot!” would have been replied to by hell with a loud cry of “Victory!” But the powers of darkness experience vexation in which the acclamations of victory are choked in the utterance because in an instant the whole aspect of things is changed, and the supposed victory is manifested to be a total defeat. This is incessantly the case in their operations against the children of God. Triumphing, they succumb, while the believers in succumbing, conquer.
lisha asks for a little meal. Who would think that such a trifling remedy would be able to destroy death! But the prophet orders it in the name of the Lord. And what power does the most inconsiderable means acquire when connected with the Word of God! A dish of salt is then sufficient to remove the desolation of bitter springs. A tree makes the wells of Marah sweet. A little clay made with spittle restores sight to a man born blind. The healing power of every medicine depends on one ingredient, which must not be lacking—the blessing of God. Without the latter, the most deeply-studied prescription is unavailing. But if the Word be added, the substratum is of little importance. The children of the prophets did not stumble at the trifling nature of the remedy. It is God’s method to make inferior things the vehicles of His miraculous power. He that despises what is inconsiderable is not fit for the kingdom of God. Our King was born in a stable and crowned with thorns. Fishermen and publicans appeared as the administrators of the Supreme Majesty; and a mere word, devoid of every rhetorical adornment, professes to be the voice of Jehovah. The brethren soon return with the meal which had been desired. Elisha takes the meal and casts it into the pot, without any pomp or ceremony, but full of confidence in Him who is equally able to help by small
24 UPLOOK • JULY-AUGUST 2000
things as by great. He then orders his attendant to pour out to the people that they may eat. The disciples feel no more hesitation, but eat of it in good faith. And faith is never put to shame; it is crowned. It is only put to shame when based on the individual’s own strength; he that believes in God shall see the glory of God. When the brethren ate of it, the narrative informs us “there was no harm in the pot.” The soup was savory and wholesome, and whatever they had swallowed of a poisonous nature had lost its baneful quality. Thus a handful of meal was a sufficient means in the Almighty’s hand to break the power of death, to destroy the triumph of hell, and to preserve to the world His servants on the earth. Let no one ever be dismayed who knows that such a God is on his side. He is a living God, who does as He pleases with the powers of both heaven and earth. God has reserved to Himself more than the office of a mere overlooker of the things which He has made; He works in a free and effectual manner, and changes laws, powers, and qualities at His pleasure.
hus, what was later expressly promised to believers in Christ’s name was experienced by those at Gilgal. “If they drink any deadly thing,” said the Saviour, “it shall not hurt them.” In a spiritual sense, this is unconditionally fulfilled in all the children of God. For them there is nothing any longer destructive, baneful, or soul-slaying. Even where a thing is all this according to its nature, for the Christian a miraculous antidote is deposited in it so that not only is there nothing that can injure him, but everything works together for his good. Every ordeal terminates in such a manner that he is not only able to bear it, but is even constrained to praise God on account of it. Sin is the most destructive poison in the world, but even this is deprived of its deadly power in the members of Christ. O blissful security of the children of God, against which every arrow is blunt, every sword is notched; who put their hands unhurt into the den of the cockatrice! And that which seeks their injury promotes their blessing against its will. The wicked world is to them only as the abode of the the refiner and the polisher. Even the devil performs for them only the office of an apprentice in the dispensary of the great Physician, in which he prepares beneficial mixtures. All that is in the world has received orders to serve these little ones. Lift up your heads, therefore, you who are dear to God as the apple of His eye! Bid adieu to care! Whatever happens to you in the world, there is for you no harm in the pot. Grace mingles itself with everything, and renders it for our good.
C. H. SPURGEON
2 KINGS 7:3-7
Who found it out? God uses the most unlikely agents to accomplish His purposes
s it not singular that the story of four leprous men should be inserted in the Book of the Kings of Israel? No; not for the Bible. If you were to take out of the Scriptures all the stories that have to do with the poor and afflicted, what a small book the Bible would become, especially if together with the stories you removed all the psalms of the sorrowful, all the promises for the distressed, and all the passages which belong to the children of grief! This Book for the most part is made up of the annals of the poor and despised. Think what a space is occupied with the life of the man who was separated from his brethren, sold for a slave, and put in prison in Egypt. What a large part of the Bible is occupied by the writings of one who was a babe exposed on the Nile, and afterwards kept a flock for forty years in the desert. We could not part with the account of the man who lost all his property and children in one day, and sat among the ashes covered with boils. Or the story of two widows who came empty-handed from Moab, one of whom went to glean in the fields of Boaz; nor the history of that woman of a sorrowful spirit, and her little boy, around whom the hope of Israel gathered in the dark days of Eli. Page after page of holy writ is enriched with the experience of that youth who was taken from tending the flock to become the champion of his country, and was afterwards hunted like a partridge on the mountain by the envious king. We could not give up the history of of the
fugitive who was cast into the sea, nor even the minor incidents of the widow of Sarepta and her barrel of meal, and the prophet’s widow whose creditor was about to seize her children for her husband’s debts. Nor do lepers fall behind; we have two stories of lepers close together—Naaman the Syrian, and the four in our text at Samaria’s gate. They were wisely put forth from Israel, but they were not put forth from Israel’s God. You who are poor and needy, you who are sick and sorrowful, listen to this discourse, and may the Lord comfort your hearts. On a future day, when the great books of history (as yet only known to the recording angel), shall be read of all, your story will appear; and maybe it will be as memorable as that of Hannah or Joseph, and God will get as much glory out of what He has done for you as from any of the deeds of His love recorded in the inspired page. The New Testament runs in the same strain. Under the economy of grace our Lord Jesus is seen living among fishermen and peasants, and calling the poor to be His disciples. “God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; and base things things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen; yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are” (1 Cor. 1:2728). It is worthwhile to be among the poor, despised, and sad, to have your record on high, and to magnify the condescension of the Lord. In 2 Kings 7, the city of Samaria had been besieged for some time by
Ruins of the gates of Samaria the Syrian army; famine had fallen on the people and driven them to horrible straits. One can hardly bear to read of mothers devouring their own babes through stress of hunger. God sent his servant Elisha to tell them that the next day there should be an abundance of food in the gates of Samaria, but the message was received with open ridicule. It is God’s way to be true to His word. However great the promise, it is as sure as it is great. And so before the moon arose, the Lord had caused Israel’s enemies to flee, and had provided food for Samaria. The siege was raised from around the city. The troopers had fled on foot and left their steeds tethered in rows: captains and common soldiers had alike taken to their heels like frightened sheep. Samaria sat on its hill in the twilight, lonely and free. Yet in the city they thought themselves cooped up. They were as free as the harts of had they known it: their ignorance held them in. The Lord had defeated all their enemies—they had run for their lives because of the sound of approaching chariots. Without aid from Hittite or Ethiopian, the God of Israel had driven the whole host of Syria like chaff before the wind. Yet
www.uplook.org • JULY-AUGUST 2000
WHO FOUND it OUT? Israel knew not that the Lord’s right hand and His holy arm had gotten Him the victory. They set guards to protect them from a foe no longer present; the sentinels paced the walls, guarding against an imaginary foe. O Samaria, had you known the gift of God, your silent streets would have rung with shouts of joy. God works and men perceive it not; therefore is man unhappy, and God is not praised as He should be. God has provided plenty for them. Within a stone’s throw there was more flour and barley than they could consume. They were starving in the midst of plenty, pining when they might have been feasting. Was that not a strange thing? A city besieged, and not besieged; girt with enemies, as they thought, and yet not an enemy left; starving, and yet near to a feast. See what unbelief can do. They had been promised plenty by God’s prophet; but they did not believe the promise. Had they been looking for it, they might have seen the unusual movement in the Syrian camp, and noticed the absolute stillness which succeeded it. I know a sad parallel. The Lord Jesus Christ has come into the world and has put away the sin of His people; yet many complain that their sin can never be put away. The Lord has routed every enemy, yet they are afraid of innumerable evils. None is left to harm them, but they do not remember that the Lord reigns. They are afraid of this, and afraid of that, yet in one tremendous battle the Champion has routed all their foes. They are no longer prisoners; the Lord has brought them liberty, but they are not aware of it by reason of their unbelief. Another thing to be noticed about these leprous discoverers is that they dared not have joined themselves to God’s people. They were not allowed inside the city: their wretched place was without the gate. Yet these poor creatures whom Israel would not acknowledge were the first to find out what the Lord had done. These men at last were driven to give themselves up. They said, “We will fall unto the Syrians; and if they kill us we shall but die.” Blessed is that man who has given himself up, not to the Syrians, but to the Saviour! As long as we can do something, we keep on doing that something to our ruin; but when it is all over with us and we can do no more, then man’s extremity is God’s opportunity. The man who struggles as he sinks is hard to be rescued; but when the drowning man is going down for the third time, then is the opportunity for the rescuer who brings him safely to shore. You lost ones, listen to this, “The Son of man is come to save that which was lost.” “Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief.” You self-righteous people, how can you talk about being
26 UPLOOK • JULY-AUGUST 2000
saved? What saving do you want? You are as full of good works as you can be, and your pride shines on your brows; how can you be saved? They that shall be saved by Jesus are those that are in themselves lost, ruined, and undone. Until you know your ruin, and confess your sin, you will never accept a Saviour. While you feel that you can save yourselves, you will attempt it; but when you can do no more, then you will fall into the arms of your Saviour, and a blessed fall that will be. These lepers went to the Syrian camp and saw for themselves. A supper was ready. The hungry men needed no persuasion. And they had feasted they said, “To whom does this gold and silver belong? The prey belongs to us, for our enemies have left it behind.” There was no sound of revelry that night, nor tramp of guard, nor talk around the watch-fire. The lepers tasted more of the forsaken dainties, drained other goblets, and took more gold and silver. Who can conceive the delirious joy of those four lepers in the midst of such abundance? Do you see what these men did? They went and saw for themselves and then took possession for themselves. Now they are fully qualified to go and tell the starving city of their discovery, because they know they have made no mistake. They have satisfied their own hunger and handled the riches for themselves, so they can speak as men who know and are sure. He knows the grace of God best who, in all his hunger and faintness and weariness, has come to Christ, and and taken the blessings, and made himself rich with hidden treasure. Such a man will speak convincingly because he will bear a personal witness. This man does not argue, but testifies; he is not a pleader, but a witness. The lepers, fed and enriched, stand outside the city gate, and call to the porter, for they have news worth telling. The believer can speak with conviction, and thus imitates his Master, who spoke with authority. The Lord made a good choice when He selected these lepers to be discoverers of His great work. He does wisely when He takes those who are saddest, and fills their mouths with laughter and their tongues with singing, for these will command attention. These poor wretches could not have made up so amazing a story, nor feigned such joy: sorrowing castaways could not have invented the story of free grace. It must be true. Notice how they came to make the discovery. Truly necessity is the mother of invention; and the mother of that blessed invention which finds the Lord Jesus Christ and His finished salvation is the awful necessity of a perishing soul. Let some souls feel the burden of sin, and they will never rest till they come to Jesus. I would to God that some of you were reduced to so great a
WHO FOUND it OUT? necessity that you were driven to the only One who can succor you. Oh, that you were utterly bankrupt! Not a kind wish, you say. Yes, it is. Our complete emptiness constrains us to seek the divine fullness. Look at the prodigal son; so long as he had anything left he did not go home to his father; but when he had spent all his substance, and had become so hungry that he envied the very hogs he fed, then he said, “I will arise, and go to my father.” Spiritual necessity is that which nerves the soul to cast itself on the grace found in Jesus Christ. Poor soul, is your case desperate? Well, then, try faith. You cannot be any worse, and you may be better. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. If He should reject you, you cannot be any worse; but then, He cannot reject you, for He says, “Him that cometh to Me, I will in no wise cast out.” I cannot be blamed for trusting One who has saved so many. There is no risk in the matter. Come and try Him. Come at this moment. Again, these men saw there was no reason why they should not go, for they said one to the other, “Why sit we here until we die?” They could not find a justification for inaction. Nor can you say that you remain ungodly and unbelieving because the Lord bids you do so. Far from it. He bids you forsake your way and your thoughts, and turn to Him and live. He promises that He will receive you, and cries, “Turn ye, turn ye, why will ye die ?” The lepers could not say that they sat there because they were chained. They could move to the Syrian camp; this was their one liberty. You also are not compelled to be as you are. Is there any reason why you should not pray? Is there any barrier to your trusting the Lord except it be in your own heart? You are not compelled to remain ungodly, thoughtless, prayerless, faithless. You are not compelled to be lost: there is no compulsion put upon you to force you away from Jesus and eternal life. Oh, that you would pluck up heart and say, “Why should we sit here until we die?” Recall how the people of Nineveh humbled themselves before God with nothing to encourage them, but “Who can tell…?” Jonah said, “Forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown” and they could get no more comfort than the question, “Who can tell if God will turn and repent, and turn away from His fierce anger, that we perish not?” Oh, troubled heart, who can tell? The full, rich, eternal mercy of the Lord may be enjoyed by you before the sun goes down. Your head could yet wear the starry crown; about your naked loins there could yet be girt the fair linen of Christ’s righteousness. Do not believe the devil if he says you must die. You need not die. Venture now to Christ. These lepers went to the Syrian camp because they
were shut up to that one course, “If we say, we will enter into the city, then the famine is in the city, and we shall die there: and if we sit still here, we die also.” Only one road was open. I am always glad when I am in that condition. If many courses are open to me I may make a mistake; but when I see only one road I know how to go. It is a blessed thing to be shut up to faith in Christ, to be compelled to look to grace alone. These lepers were not men to theorize. They were in such a plight that they must come to prompt action. Many speculate on theology as if it were part of a liberal education, but by no means a practical matter, but those who are ready to perish look on matters in another light. We are not chemists analyzing the bread of life; we are fainting souls who feed on it with eagerness. They entered tent after tent: nobody forbade them. They were possessors of all they saw. When I came to Christ, I could not believe that I might take the promises, but nobody said me nay. I have gone on appropriating promises ever since—exceeding great and precious promises. I can be most free in Christ’s house, and the more free I am, the better He is pleased. His rule is: “Ask what you will, and it shall be done unto you.” Perhaps the leper felt some little question when he saw a golden cup or a silver bowl. What have lepers to do with golden cups? But he overcame his scruples. Nobody was there to stop him; therefore he took what was provided for him. I take up my parable, and without scruple invite you to deal thus with salvation. When I came to Jesus, I hardly dared to appropriate a promise; it looked like stealing. I did not, could not believe, that I had a right to any of the good things provided for the Lord’s people. But now I venture to take what grace has put in my way. I take possession of everything that I can find in Christ. I have never yet found either conscience, or the Word of God, or the Lord Himself upbraid me for appropriating the precious things laid up for believers. One of these days I, who am the least of all saints, expect to stand among the bright ones near the throne, and sing, “Hallelujah to God and the Lamb.” I do not think that I shall be ashamed to stand there. I am ashamed of myself for ten thousand reasons, but I shall not be ashamed for enjoying the fullness of His grace. You poor lost and ruined ones, come to my Lord Jesus! Believe it, the whole land is before you: the land that flows with milk and honey is for you. This world is yours, and worlds to come. Christ is yours; yea, God Himself is yours. Everything is to be had for nothing. Heaven and all its joys are yours upon believing. God make you the discoverers this day of His wondrous grace, and to Him shall be praise forever! www.uplook.org • JULY-AUGUST 2000
LO O K AT B O O KS
Getting a grip on prophecy The Dictionary of Premillennial Theology by Mal Couch
ut we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren…” These few words, recorded in 1 Thessalonians 4:13 ff, reveal the heart of the Apostle Paul for the believers at Thessalonica. As he began his discussion about Christ’s return, the resurrection of those who had died in Christ, and the rapture of the church, he did not want them to be “ignorant” (KJV) or “uninformed about those who are asleep.” Neither did he want them to hopelessly “grieve.” Paul explains, “…that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus” (1 Thess. 4:13-14, NASV). A proper understanding of prophecy, especially God’s specific plan for His blood-bought church in relation to end-time events, is one of the greatest encouragements a believer in Christ can have. It is said to be a source of “comfort” (1 Thess. 4:18), a “blessed hope” (Titus 2:13), and an incentive to holiness (1 Jn. 3:2-3). In this regard, the Dictionary of Premillennial Theology (Mal Couch, General Editor) by Kregel Publications serves as an excellent primer and reference work on prophecy, as well as a great encouragement for the student of biblical eschatology. Compiled by more than fifty Bible teachers, scholars, authors, and theologians from around the world, the Dictionary of Premillennial Theology is both concise, yet at the same time comprehensive in its cov-
28 UPLOOK • JULY-AUGUST 2000
erage of eschatology as a theological discipline. I would recommend it for your library for the following reasons: First, as a dictionary, the Dictionary of Premillennial Theology provides much information and many answers to questions having to do with Bible
prophecy and premillennial theology. This can prove helpful for both beginning and advanced students. For example, what do such terms as rapture, millennium, Second Coming, the Seventieth Week of Daniel, abomination of desolation, Armageddon, premillennialism, amillennialism, dispensationalism, preterist, futurist, literalist, imminency, Israel, the Church, Jacob’s trouble, Great tribulation, etc. mean, and how do they relate to end-time events? What are
the various views concerning Christ’s return to earth? Historically, how and when did they develop, and who were their main proponents? When will the rapture take place? Will it be prior to the Great Tribulation, mid-way through it, or at the end? What is the order of events on God’s great prophetic calendar? Why do sincere Christians seem to differ as to the order of these events? When it comes to prophecy, what different methods of Bible interpretation exist, and how do they contribute to the differing viewpoints of believers in Christ? The Dictionary of Premillennial Theology provides answers to these types of questions, and much more. A second reason for recommending this book is because of its coverage of almost all the books of the Bible in relation to eschatology (the doctrine of last things). The eschatology of each book of the Bible is given, with the exception of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes in the Old Testament, and Philemon in the New Testament. Otherwise, all the rest of the books of the Bible are discussed in terms of how they speak to and/or present eschatological events. One need only look up the name of the Bible book in the dictionary, as listed in alphabetical order. A third factor that makes this book valuable is that it presents and clearly defines the key doctrines that relate to the end-times. Just to name a few, the doctrines of heaven, hell, Christ, the Holy Spirit, salvation, imminency, pre-tribulationism vs. post-tribulationism, millennialism,
GETTING a GRIP on PROPHECY premillennialism vs. amillennialism, Israel and the Church, the rapture, the Great Tribulation, and God’s wrath are all defined and discussed. The major theological terms and concepts in prophetic studies are concisely presented. Additionally, helpful cross-references and bibliographical information are supplied. All of this makes the DOPT a valuable reference tool indeed! Fourthly, the fact that this book covers key people who have influenced, contributed to, and promoted prophetic teaching throughout church history makes this a valuable work. However, having said that, I am sure that some will wish that even more writers from various backgrounds (including the assemblies) had been included. The book includes articles on the following key figures: Sir Robert Anderson, Jean Astruc, Augustine, John Bale, David Baron, James Hall Brooks, E. W. Bullinger, Harry Bultema, John Calvin, Lewis Sperry Chafer, C. I. Scofield, E. R. Craven, John Nelson Darby, M. R. DeHaan, Jonathan Edwards, Morgan Edwards, Johaan Ernesti, A. C. Gaebelein, James Robinson Graves, James M. Gray, Hugo Grotius, Robert H. Gundry, Hippolytus, Thomas Hobbes, David Hume, Irenaeus, H. A. Ironside, Immanuel Kant, Samuel H. Kellogg, Lactanius, George Eldon Ladd, Clarence Larkin, Hal Lindsay, Martin Luther, Margaret MacDonald, Philip Melanchton, D. L. Moody, Origen, Rene Pache, Papias, J. Dwight Pentecost, George N. H. Peters, William T. Pettingill, Philo, Arthur Pink, Francisco Ribera, J. C. Ryle, Charles C. Ryrie, W. Graham Scroggie, Joseph A. Seiss, Richard Simon, Bernard Spinoza, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, J. F. Strombeck, W. H. Griffith Thomas, Jean-Alphonse Turretin, William Tyndale, John F. Walvoord, Isaac Watts, Nathaniel West, and Johann Wettstein. Whew! The inclusion of such notable names contributes much to both a historical and theological understanding of the various prophetic viewpoints. Finally, though this dictionary is fairly brief and concise (only 448 pages, with a very readable font size), and though it deals much with the history and development of many prophetic viewpoints, to its credit it also covers a number of the contemporary theological and eschatological issues that Christians face today. Some of those teachings would include the pre-wrath rapture, Christian reconstructionism, postmillennialism, theonomy, and covenant theology. If I were to suggest improvements to the Dictionary of Premillennial Theology it would include the following: First, the book is woefully lacking in graphics and artwork (i.e. charts, illustrations, photos, etc.). If I counted correctly, there are only four charts in all of the
book’s 448 pages. Because of the media-laden world and visually-oriented culture in which we live, graphics are a must for effective communication, even on the printed page. A second suggested improvement may at first seem somewhat contradictory. And that is that the book be expanded to be more comprehensive. On the one hand, one of the strengths of the Dictionary of Premillennial Theology for today’s busy reader is its conciseness. Yet on the other, there are a number of areas of prophetic study that readers will wish the book had dealt with in greater detail. On second thought, however, this may be the book’s greatest strength—to serve to whet the believer’s appetite for more in-depth prophetic study. On the front of the Dictionary of Premillennial Theology the descriptive statement is made, “A Practical Guide to the People, Viewpoints, and History of Prophetic Studies.” On the back of the book it is described as “a practical reference book for anyone engaged in the study of biblical prophecy and premillennial theology.” Both of these statements are absolutely accurate! This book is very practical and useful when it comes to studying biblical eschatology. If you as a believer do not want to be “uninformed” (1 Thess. 4:13) as to biblical prophecy and premillennial theology, then I would encourage you to be sure to obtain this book. As you study God’s Word in regard to our Lord’s return, this book can be a great aid and tool in helping you sort out the many terms, concepts, and truths associated with Christ’s Second Coming and other end-time events. Most of all, I believe that it will be an encouragement to your heart and life as you look forward to His coming. Maranatha!
This book… will be an encouragement to your heart and life as you look forward to His coming.
ISBN # 0-8254-2351-1 Pages: 448 Edition: hardcover Published by: Kregel Publications, copyright 1996 Available from Gospel Folio Press at 1-800-952-2382 GFP book code: X-3511 $25.99 US $38.99 Cdn www.uplook.org • APRIL 2000
ELISHA: A PROPHET FOR OUR TIME by F. W. Krummacher X-0607 In this stimulating biographical study, F. W. Krummacher goes beyond the events of Elisha's life to examine the character and motivation of the prophet and the implicit spiritual lessons for all believers. Acknowledged as one of the greatest conservative scholars and preachers of his day, Krummacher’s exposition of Elisha’s life is both scholarly and imminently practical. 220 pgs. Paper RETAIL $11.99 $17.99 CDN
ELISHA: THE MAN OF GOD by Hamilton Smith X-3407 “Elisha is a type of the Christ who was to come. He is also the pattern of every believer in Christ, teaching us that, amidst all the circumstances of life, we should be the exponents...of the grace that has reached us in all our degradation in order to have us at last with, and like, the Man in glory.” 96 pgs. Paper RETAIL $2.99 $4.99 CDN
ELISHA: GOD’S MESSENGER
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UPLOOK • JULY-AUGUST 2000
TISHBITE by F. W. Krummacher X-0593 Elijah is one of the Old Testament characters most frequently mentioned in the New Testament and Krummacher’s biography is especially cognizant of that fact. In his commentary he often cites New Testament references to the fiery Old Testament prophet. The life of Elijah may teach us how the Lord guides His people, and how His imparted strength is perfected in weakness. 336 pgs. Paper RETAIL $12.99 $17.99 CDN
ELIJAH: A PROPHET OF THE LORD by Hamilton Smith X-3417 “As we move on to glory...may we, too, catch the spirit of Elijah and learn to walk in separation from evil, in dependence on God, and in devotedness to God, while watching to be raptured to glory at the coming of the Lord.” 90 pgs. Paper RETAIL $2.99 $4.99 CDN
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• Full-size pages are wall mounted on a durable backboard with hanger hole. • Takes you through the entire Bible in one year with an intuitive reading plan. • Printed ONE side for tearing off daily to include with correspondence or to take with you.
C-01CGW RETAIL $10.99
GOSPEL FOLIO PRESS, P.O. Box 2041, Grand Rapids MI 49501-2041 ORDERS: 1-800-952-2382 U.S. customers: Appropriate shipping & handling will be added; Michigan residents: add 6% sales tax. Canadian customers: 7% GST and appropriate shipping & handling will be added.
DOES THIS DESCRIBE YOU? • You enjoy GOOD BOOKS—Christ exalting, Biblically dependable, well written, affordable books—in other words, the kind of books almost impossible to find EXCEPT from distributors like GFP. • You would like to get books like these on your own shelf AND into the hands of other Christians in your area. • You have limited resources, but you’re willing to make the effort to help others discover good Christian literature WHILE BUILDING YOUR OWN LIBRARY. IF SO, you could be a BOOK BUILDER! Here are the details: • We send you 6 copies of a different title each month. One is a FREE book for your library AND you receive a special 30% discount on the other five copies. We will charge your Visa, Mastercard or Discover card. There will be no shipping or handling charge although taxes will be added for members in Michigan and Canada. You also receive a special 10% discount on other purchases from GFP. You may cancel at any time. • CALL SAM TODAY at (800) 952-2382 to sign up as a BOOK BUILDER or to recieve more information. www.uplook.org • APRIL 2000
The soul of a child is the loveliest flower That grows in the garden of God; Its climb is from weakness to knowledge and power, To the sky from the clay and the clod. To beauty and sweetness it grows under care, Neglected, itâ€™s ragged and wild. Itâ€™s a plant that is tender but wondrously rare, The sweet, wistful soul of a child. Be tender, O gardener, and give it its share Of moisture, of warmth and of light, And let it not lack for your painstaking care To protect it from frost and from blight. A glad day will come when its bloom shall unfold, It will seem that the heavens have smiled. Reflecting its beauty and sweetness untold In the sensitive heart of a child.