PSALM 139 – “Search Me, O God”

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“You, Lord, are intimately acquainted with every part of my life and thoughts — past, future, present — though such a realisation staggers the natural mind. Everywhere is near You. Your nearness knows no limits. There is neither height nor depth of human experience beyond your sharing or perception. All that I am, comes from You. You are the Cause, and Yours the skill that from my beginning called forth and watched over every stage of my growth, thus turning Your thoughts into my being. The comprehensiveness of Your thoughts defies my imagination, and by them, I am brought forth, not unto myself, but unto You — Your presence, care, and love. Where can any evil, stand in Your presence? May it flee before You, and thus before all whom You cause to stand near You. And may that nearness discover and eradicate all trace of error, that I may walk with You always.”

This paraphrase of Psalm 139 surely expresses the wonder of the dealings of the Lord and His care for each one of His people. It is an intimate confession of the surprise and the awe brought to us by the Truth when we are let into Divine secrets, and when we are thus confronted with the mystery, WHY? Why, Lord, are you interested — in this worthless lump of clay? Who am I Lord? And who are these Thy people? What claims have we upon Divine love? And yet, we are here only because You made us, Lord. We are what we are because that is how You made us. And we are in Your presence, because that is where You had in mind for us to be.

If the lips were King David’s, the words were of the holy Spirit. Their full appreciation requires also the Spirit of God in the heart of the Readers.

Five Parts, Like Genesis to Deuteronomy

The psalms are not in chronological order. This is apparent, in that psalm 137, describing conditions during the captivity in Babylon, is followed by a whole series from the sweet psalmist of Israel, David, psalms 138 to 145, centuries before the captivity. Nevertheless, the Jews have long believed that the psalms are grouped according to a pattern, a series of five themes, which they have likened to the five books of Moses, from Genesis. We find our psalm, 139, in the last of these — the Deuteronomy portion. The book of Deuteronomy is one of retrospect. It looks back over the forty years of wilderness wanderings. This psalm of David also looks back over many years. It looks back with wonder at the countless thoughts of God towards him, the trials, the failings, the over‑rulings, in every experience, God was there.

Perhaps, looking back, we too may be able to recognise in general terms a sequence in our own individual lives. Our own Genesis of beginnings, our first reaching out towards the Lord. In my case, and that of many other brethren, that Genesis beginning coincided with the reading of Volume one of “Studies in the Scriptures — The Divine Plan,” by Pastor Charles Taze Russell. Joseph Rotherham, translator of the “Emphasised Bible,” left his own testimony concerning this book. “The chapter on the Permission of Evil alone is worth more than the price of the whole Volume and is the fullest discussion of this great mystery and the nearest approximation to a probably correct solution of it with which we are acquainted.” (With Volume One selling in those days for only 60 cents, that was a bit of an understatement!) The Lord had set our feet upon a Rock. Many millions of copies of this Volume went out throughout the world. The seed was widely sown, yet from those millions comparatively few were to respond to the sickle‑like message of the harvest of the age.

“Whose hearts the Lord opened.”

It was not you or me, but the Lord; and this must have an awesome effect upon our minds. Why did the Lord open my eyes? Those first vague desires, that impulse to follow, though I knew not whither I was going, why me, Lord?

With each of us, that Genesis stage would soon develop into our Exodus — the effect of Truth in releasing from captivity to the ways and thinking of this present evil world, and the power of the evil one. Again the blessedness of that release was not by our effort. It was the Lord, our Deliverer. He opened our eyes to the vanity of all below, and by various means loosened our grip upon the things of this earth.

He emptied my hands of my treasured store,
And His covenant love revealed;
There was not a wound in mine aching heart,
But the balm of His breath hath healed,
Oh, tender and true was the chastening sore,
In wisdom that taught and fried,
Till the soul He sought was trusting in Him
And nothing on earth beside.

The book of Leviticus was concerned with the Divine sanctuary, the consecration of the priesthood, and the implications of approach to a Holy God. We came to realise that salvation lay in something more than the endeavour to live a high moral life of separation from the world.

At what great cost the Lord made provision for our sinful state.

With this deepening realisation came the longing to know Him better, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire into His sanctuary. With deepening appreciation we learned what consecration really meant — and so beside His sacrifice we were led to lay down our little all. That consecration is still to be brought to completion. Such a state of resolution was the result of heaven’s love overflowing into our hearts. Again; it was the Lord.

A period of wilderness experiences was to follow, our book of Numbers stage. In many ways these wilderness tests and trials of faith are still ours today and probably will be until the journey’s end, yet already, perhaps, they are merging into our Deuteronomy stage of retrospect.

Tonight, we can look back over the whole of life’s journey so far. Do we see a hotch‑potch of seemingly disconnected experiences?

Did our path seem to ramble, first this way, then another, without particular sign of progress or achievement?

That’s what we mean by wilderness wanderings. Did we notice that Rock? — The Rock that followed us? In 1 Corinthians 10, Paul sanctioned the Jews’ tradition that the rock itself, or at least the stream from it, followed the Israelites from place to place, supplying its life‑giving pools throughout the wilderness way. Deuteronomy 32:4-37 identifies the Rock as the Begetter and the Former, the Saviour and Defender of the Lord’s people; the Source of Truth sweeter than honey, and of the Holy oil, and in all these works, perfect beyond compare.

Someone was watching, watching us every step of the way. Watching us even this moment, and perhaps now, as we look back, helping us to trace the way of the Lord’s dealings in our lives.

“Deep on my heart let memory trace
His acts of mercy and of grace.”

Never did we walk alone, for He had said, “My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest” (Exodus 33:14). “Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared” (Exodus 23:20).

And with that special Angel of His presence, Our Blessed Lord and Head, came other angels, some of them visible angels with human faces. The Janes and Wills, the Mays and Hildas, Judys, Evas, Franks and Harrys, and Jims, the home ecclesia brethren, and other dear brethren both here and throughout the land, each to play a part in our lives, as helping hands along the way. We had so many helps, so many blessings. We can now look back with deepest gratitude to the Lord. He Who designed the Great Ages of His Plan, had turned His wondrous skills to me.

Toward the End of Our Journey

Psalm 139:16 in the Hebrew, “In Thy book each day was planned.” “Thou hast searched me and know.” He knows it all; with vision divine He knows each turn of our path, He knows how it all will end; he knows what is required to achieve that end.

If we have begun our Deuteronomy stage, we know it is not only one of retrospect — it is forward looking also. Never have we been nearer to our journey’s goal. The river at last pours out into the boundless waters of the sea. The nearer it gets to that estuary the greater is the influence of what lies so close ahead. It is moved by its tides, as the great ocean waters mingle with its own. And so with the saints as they anticipate their home‑coming now so near. The abundant entrance, the joyous throng of welcoming overcomers who have gone before — already we sense that sweet taste of victory through Christ — already does that joy unspeakable bring its glory‑glow into our hearts. Soon, the day will arrive for each of us to finish this present course — our Graduation day! Are our gowns ready? Will it be marked, that last step of the way? Will we find a label stating, “This is your final test of faith”? We wait on Pisgah’s mount until that “vision glorious” melts into its full blessed reality.

Looking now forwards towards that veil we perceive but the semblance of what lies beyond. Through that pattern of blue, and purple, and scarlet threads, set in the fine twined linen of cunning work: we but vaguely perceive the hazy outline of heavenly things, depicted in the cherubim. But once we pass that veil, the scales of all present limitations will fall from our eyes, and with vision clear as the noon‑day sun, we shall see Him Whom our soul loveth, face‑to‑face.

Then too shall we see what He has wrought. A new creation, after the likeness of Him that made it. Then, from within those encircling arms of our Father, we shall be blessed with full retrospective wisdom, know at last the reasons for so many puzzling circumstances and experiences of the way.

Even now, can we not anticipate something of the wonder of that blessed hour? Lord, that I might view my present walk, each test, each trial, each concept of Thy Truth, against the glory of that perfect day. Oh that with retrospective wisdom blest, I could retrace each step, remould each thought, with noonday vision of my Father’s face. It is, then, in blessed realisation of all we have come to know of our Father thus far, that our hearts echo the refrain of the psalmist in this song of retrospective wisdom.

Bruising

This whole psalm, 139, is an expression of the awe and wonder of this knowledge of the Lord — that is, His knowledge of us. Verses 2‑5: we have the concept of His omniscience. He knows it all. There is nothing hidden from the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do. How thankful we are of that. Did we ever feel, “My way is hid from the Lord.”? “I am on my own, He does not know; He does not heed”? Verse 11 of the psalm (139) says, “Surely the darkness shall cover me.” The Hebrew word translated “cover me” is used only three other places. Each time it retains its true meaning, to bruise me. Job speaks in 9:17, of being bruised or broken by the stormy tempest the Lord had allowed into his life.

Genesis 3:15 speaks of the bruising of the seed of the woman. Is there then a hint in this verse 11 of the psalm of the powers of darkness under which both Jesus and His followers would be bruised? Was His arm then shortened that He could not use those very trials to achieve the end He has in mind?

If it pleased the Lord to “bruise” Him, or any other of His children, it is to an end more wonderful than anything they are caused to bear. But only by His permission can the bruising come.

Isaiah 49:14,15. — Does Zion cry “The LORD hath forsaken me, and my Lord hath forgotten me”? “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget [a mother’s mind is full of so many things. We can recall one sister who, arriving home from the daily shopping chores, suddenly remembered that she had left the pram at the store!] yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.”

Looking back, can we not each testify with the conviction of retrospect.

“He was better to me than all my hopes;
He was better than all my fears;
He made a bridge of my broken works,
And a rainbow of my tears.

“The billows that guarded my sea-girt path,
But carried my Lord on their crest;
When I dwell on the days of my wilderness march
I can lean on His love for the rest” (“Stream in the Desert” by L.B. Cowman).

The woman was at her wit’s end, dejected and desolate, Genesis 16:6. Her life had become so hard that she had tried to run away. But to go further into the wilderness meant she would certainly perish.

It was then

that the Lord sent His angel to tell her to

go back

and submit to her trials.

What a message! Wherein lay the comfort? Where was the way of escape?

“Go back! Submit!”

Yet with wonder Hagar realised that the Lord knew everything about her, He knew, and He cared! With awe she had come in that moment of crisis to know the name of the Lord. Genesis 16:13, You‑Are‑The‑God‑Who‑Sees; for she said, “Have I also here seen Him who sees me?” Did our experience match?

At time of need, did the message come: “Don’t run away! Submit!” Was it in storm that we found our anchor, and first came to realise what it was for?

In that experience Hagar knew she had heard the voice of the Lord, and had seen Him in new light. Forever in her mind that place would be a memorial to a precious divine understanding of human need. She had found a well, and she called it “The Well of the one Who Lives and Sees Me” (NKJV). Never would that well run dry. And the child born from that experience was called “Ishmael,” “God hears.” God really does hear!

Searching

Psalm 139:1 — “O LORD, thou hast searched me, and know.” The following verses show it is an on‑going ever‑present tense. It is said that “the word rendered searched, has a primary reference to mining into the earth as for precious metals.” Digging deep into the inner recesses of our heart. As the result of that searching and sifting, we can confidently say, “Thou, Lord, seest all that is in my heart. Nothing is, or can be, concealed from thee. You know everything about me, yet You still love me!”

It is with this deep consciousness that the psalm begins; and all that follows is but an expansion and application of this revealing. God knows me altogether; He sees all that is there in my innermost being. He sees more in me than I can see in myself. He is fully acquainted with every stage and step of my past life. How does He do this? We may well ask!

More to the point; Why?

Why does He condescend?
Why does He notice?
Why trouble to know me, and everything about me?

It would, of course, be true to say; “known unto the Lord are ALL His works from the beginning.” He is not confined to our concept of time. It is part of His nature, His ability, His attribute of omniscience, to know all things. Is there anything He does not know? But knowing in this intimacy is for us, part of a close relationship, that of a Father and His child. Jesus said (Matthew 6:8), “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” And for our Father to see and know, is for Him to oversee and supply the needs of His child.

Helping

Psalm 37:25 — “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” How many of our dear elderly brethren today can echo those words! Yes, maybe sometimes the bread we need turns out to be the “bread of affliction” in 1 Kings 22:27. It is the harsh treatment of one imprisoned by straightened circumstances, like Hagar. Here the word “affliction” is defined as something “to bring one to the state of submission.”

Paul found that imprisonment is not so bad, when shared with the Lord. But sometimes this same expression “bread of affliction” means the sustenance that the Lord specially provides in the midst of trial, as in Deuteronomy 16:3. The Lord will use many means, many messengers, to supply those needs. In 1 Kings 17:4 He uses ravens. In Psalm 23, as in the darkness the enemies circle around the flock, we find a table prepared before us.

So Jacob too was to find as he lay himself down in his stony place. Nor was he the first, nor would he be the last, to discover in the midst of trial the wonders of a God Who sees all, sees our past, and our present, and understands our needs. He knows and sees also what we cannot see, the outcome, the end to which the path is leading and He sends His messengers to our aid with the blessed assurances of His Word of promise. For there Jacob saw a ladder linking all the array of heavenly resources to the pressing needs that moment of one fleeing before the threat of death. He saw Angels ascending and descending.

Do we share Jacob’s vision?

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O could we hear the sound of many wings of angels’ flight on wondrous mission bent! Could we but see each messenger speed forth, to aid, to strengthen, comfort and support! Could we perceive the interest of a spirit world — some rising, some descending, all sent forth along the sunlight shafts of love divine … breaking through clouds … opening prison doors! With ease and grace their wonders they perform, whispering words behind us, beckoning on, guarding, guiding, watching every step of every saint, to keep in all their ways … beholding constantly a Father’s face.

Before we cry, they take our hand to bear us up, and lift us high above the stumbling stones of earth, beyond the things of time and sense to glory realms, eternity’s domain, where dwells our Lord. See, He prepares, within His Father’s House, a place “reserved” (oh blessed thought!) in heaven — for me? Sweet are such messages of love. Beautiful the flight of those who bring them to my longing heart — and loan to me their wings. How wonderful those holy sons of light whose flight from heaven’s courts was made for me, who readily descend to sinful earth to grapple with dark powers to save me harm. Yet their successes apprehended not by our poor minds, we rarely even notice that smoothed path, nor sense their effort, vigilance, or zeal in faithful ministration for our sake.

An angel’s mind accepts such poor acclaim. They joy to do it in the Father’s Name, and recognised or not, they serve the same.

His Presence

Psalm 139:7‑8 speak of His presence. It is as though He is everywhere, and in everything He is the Cause. The heights — and the very depths of human experience — He is there.

Psalm 139:7 — “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” Adam ran to hide from that Sacred Presence.

The psalmist was not trying to flee from the Lord’s presence, far from it. He is testifying from his own experiences that there is no place, no trial, no circumstance in life, that is beyond the range of divine awareness, too great, or too little, for Him to share. There is no situation beyond the reach of His eternal arms, or beyond the need of His purpose in us. He uses those two words, presence and spirit, or breath, interchangeably. In every place, He is so close that we can feel, as it were, His breath.

Psalm 139:6 — “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

Psalm 139:17,18 — record the wondrous admiration of the psalmist. “How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! (18) If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Like a child who falls contentedly to sleep upon his Father’s breast, he wakes to find himself there still, within those same unfailing arms. “When I awake” — Our spiritual life is made up of awakenings, rousing of the senses, from our first awakening to the light of Truth and Love and the realms of things eternal. Perhaps in moments of holy contemplation the Lord awakens our mind to depths of truth we had not before suspected. Perhaps at times of great pressure, when the foes of the soul are too strong for us at such a moment, He opens our eyes, like the eyes of Elisha’s servant, to those great forces working together for us — the Hosts of the LORD, the limitless supply of all the divine resources.

Perhaps, like Jacob, our hours of weariness have become times of vision and great reassurance of divine promise so that we feel we have just awakened to the personal watch care of our God and His never‑failing faithfulness, so that we too are constrained to say, “SURELY THE LORD IS IN THIS PLACE, and I knew it not.”

Our spiritual life is made up of such awakenings. There is yet to be the ultimate of all our awakenings, and each awakening of our present course makes it nearer.

Here is that moment of sweet release from all limitation of human frame, the moment of victory. This is the awakening “where sin and sense molest no more,” and the mind soars like the eagle to the sun, to gaze upon and to comprehend all the glorious fullness of truth’s ultimate reality. In Scripture it is compared with the full light of noonday. Doubly precious not only will that moment of blessed truth introduce us into the closest, fullest, relationship and awareness of the glories of eternity, it also will mark the completion, the bringing to perfection, of Our Heavenly Father’s most wondrous purpose for us.

The moment of reaching the goal, the reaching out and grasping of the prize of the high calling, the moment too, that will be, that He reaches His goal for me — His work in me finished, and the great seal of divine approval pronounced, “It is very good,” and, as in a dream, I will realize that He speaks of His work in me! And His “well done,” shall be, though all eternity, enough for me.

Only in the peaks of our present spiritual experience can we remotely sense that height of the Father’s triumph in His achievement, the bringing of His child to glory, the setting of the jewel in His crown. “They shall be Mine.” That moment of awakening to see what He has wrought! Will it not surpass our brightest hopes and sweetest dreams? The years of pilgrimage all lead to this. That delight in the Lord, deepening with time, will be answered in the granting of the heart’s desires, to be experienced in ten thousand joys, all compressed into that moment of change. And central to all our joys, Dear Lord, I am “Still, still with Thee.”

Searching

Psalm 139: 23,24 — “Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

This has to be searching with intent — the intent of the purifier of silver, and the trier of gold. His thoughts towards us — so many; so high, and humanly unattainable. Here is the response He seeks. The depth of the desire He has imparted in our hearts for holiness, the yearning to be all that He wants us to be; all this is expressed in our earnest plea,

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This is the cry so patiently He waits to hear.

This is the prayer that He alone can answer, and answer it He will, for He it was who has inspired in us this thirst after Him, as of the little deer for the water brooks.

Our Father can make us “meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:12). What a precious realisation! But He knows those that are His;

He knows the sincerity of our cry for Him to help us search out every corner of our heart for that hidden crumb of leaven, that would pollute His sanctuary.

“Walk before Me, and be thou perfect.”

He never asks what He cannot achieve, and how we long for it!

We cry to Him to search out and remove the dross, the ways and weaknesses that cannot co‑habit with a Holy God — Whose dwelling place we are!

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The psalmist commences with the acknowledgement of the Lord’s ability to scrutinize and lay bare before His eyes all that we are. Now he responds with earnest plea of these verses 23 and 24 that those holy eyes search out all trace within us of anything that would grieve our Father’s heart.

“Oh may thy goodness chase away all hindrance to Thy love.”

Do I really long to see my God? Are all my springs — in Him? Does the Spirit He has poured into our hearts answer for us?

If my Heavenly Father desires me for His rest forever, then the honour and the glory cannot be compared with any earthly joy!

Thus do our hearts’ desires with our Father’s desires, merge into that blessed oneness of which our Master spoke in that sacred prayer in John chapter 17.

The psalmist prays that the Lord would examine him with that closest scrutiny, so that he might be under no delusion or self‑deception. To search that he might not indulge in any false hopes; that he might not cherish any improper feelings or desires. Here is a prayer of deep sincerity; a prayer that also implies self‑distrust. Self‑examination is required but is limited in its efficiency.

Each Moment

The goal is closer now; that glorious end of the Lord, that once had seemed so far away. Every moment, we stand upon the brink of realization of that blessed hope. But every moment too, we are already experiencing the joy of that fellowship, the sacred sharing of everything, with our Father, and the consciousness of His great love from which neither life nor death can now ever separate.

So what thought can we carry away with us, today and every day, to keep us poised, as it were, that will recapture for us all the blessings of this searching song? One constant thought helps me. I trust it may also help each one of you.

“This moment belongs to You, Lord. This moment, this knife‑edge of time on which I forever dwell, belongs to YOU.”

A New Song

In Revelation 14:3 we read, “And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred and forty and four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth.”

Is this that song which only Thy saints can sing? This psalm — this beautiful song — the melody that fills the life with the holy awareness of God, to be sung by those whose mind and vision have been enabled by the Spirit’s invitation to “Come up higher”? This song that enables us to break through the boundaries of natural sight into the greater and grander realm, to see the King in His beauty, in the land of far horizons, the immeasurable dimensions of the Divine, that constitute the glory that will fill eternity?

If we have learned this song, how can we keep from singing?

We each can say Psalm 40:3‑4 — “You, Lord, have put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the LORD. How Blessed indeed is that one that you have brought to make the LORD our trust …”

How can I keep, from singing!
My life flows on in endless song;
Above earth’s lamentation,
I catch the sweet, not far‑off hymn,
That hails a New Creation.
Through all the tumult and the strife,
I hear the music ringing;
It finds an echo in my soul —
How can I keep from singing?

 

Acknowledgment

Br. Donald Holliday — for the above post.

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/09/17/psalm-139-search-me-o-god/

 

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His Loving Kindness – Hymns of Dawn No. 19

His Loving Kindness – Hymns of Dawn No. 19

Here is a recording of Hymn No. 19 from the “Hymns of Dawn” to aid God’s people in singing and making melody in their hearts unto God.

“(1) Come, let us shout joyfully to Jehovah! Let us shout in triumph to our Rock of salvation. (2) Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving; Let us sing and shout in triumph to him” (Psalm 95:1,2).

“My mouth shall praise Thee with joyful lips” (Psalm 63:5).

Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

Titus 3:4-7 (ESV) — “(4) But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, (5) he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, (6) whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, (7) so that being justified by his grace we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life.

Isaiah 54:8 (NASB) — ” ‘In an outburst of anger I hid My face from you for a moment, But with everlasting loving kindness I will have compassion on you,’ Says the LORD your Redeemer.”

Isaiah 63:7 (NASB) — “I shall make mention of the loving kindnesses of the LORD, the praises of the LORD, According to all that the LORD has granted us, And the great goodness toward the house of Israel, Which He has granted them according to His compassion And according to the abundance of His loving kindnesses.”

Psalm 23:4, 6 (ESV) — “(4) Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (6) Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.

Psalm 36:7 (NIV) — “How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”

Psalm 117:2 (NASB) — “For His loving kindness is great toward us, And the truth of the LORD is everlasting. Praise the LORD!”

Psalm 63:3 — “(3) Because Your loving kindness is better than life, My lips will praise You.”

Lyrics

1.
Awake, my soul, to joyful lays,
And sing thy great Redeemer’s praise;
He justly claims a song from me:
His loving kindness, O how free!
Loving kindness, Loving kindness,
His loving kindness, O how free!

2.
He saw me ruined in the fall,
Yet loved me, notwithstanding all;
He saved me from my lost estate;
His loving kindness, O how great!
Loving kindness, loving kindness,
His loving kindness, O how great!

3.
Tho’ numerous hosts of mighty foes
Combine its heav’nward way t’ oppose;
He safely leads his Church along:
His loving kindness, O how strong!
Loving kindness, loving kindness,
His loving kindness, O how strong!

4.
When trouble, like a gloomy cloud,
Has gathered thick and thundered loud,
He near my soul has always stood:
His loving kindness, O how good!
Loving kindness, loving kindness,
His loving kindness, O how good!

5.
And now earth’s rightful King has come,
To take his ransomed people home;
I’ll sing upon that blissful shore:
His loving kindness evermore.
Loving kindness, loving kindness,
His loving kindness evermore.

The History Of This Hymn

Author & Composer The “Hymns of Dawn” version of this hymn does vary to the original version of this hymn’s lyrics (first written by Samuel Medley in 1782) while the composition is the same tune as the original (attributed to William Caldwell, 1831).[https://hymnary.org/text/awake_my_soul_to_joyful_lays]

*******

The words below are based on content of Reprint No. 5440 as documented on the Harvest Truth Data Base: http://www.htdb.one

“HIS LOVING-KINDNESS, O HOW GREAT!”

“Because Thy loving-kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise Thee.”Psalm 63:3.

GOD has a kindness of nature and disposition, a loving-kindness, that is general, that goes out, in one sense of the word, to all of His creatures—not only the intelligent, but the unintelligent creatures of His hand. He bestows His kindness, His favors, upon the just and the unjust. He sends His sunshine and His rain upon the good and the evil. But there is a special loving-kindness, a special love which He reserves for those who have lovable qualities of heart—those who have such traits of character as permit Him thus to love them—just as every good person loves every other person who is good and noble-hearted.

God has such a love for the holy angels. He had such a love for Adam before he sinned. And since the sin, He has a sentiment of loving-kindness toward those of Adam’s race who, realizing their sin, desire to turn back to Him and to do His will. His loving-kindness has led Him to make a wonderful provision for these. He has provided that some shall be of the earthly nature, to receive the blessing of life everlasting here upon earth, after it has been brought to Edenic perfection. He has provided for others to be of the spiritual nature. Truly,

“There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
Like the wideness of the sea!”

But God does not love the wilful sinner. This is in harmony with righteousness. We may love the ignorant, who violate the Law of God because of a lack of knowledge, of proper information; but we could not rightly love one who is wicked, whose intention of heart, of will, is to do wrong. God has no love for the incorrigibly wicked. “All the wicked will He destroy.” He has arranged that only those who shall come into accord with His righteousness may enjoy the blessing of eternal life. These shall have an eternity of happiness; they shall be the recipients of His loving favor everlastingly.

The Psalmist had a taste of the loving-kindness of God in his own experiences. When he was anointed to be king of Israel, he knew that he had found favor in God’s sight. And later, when he did things that were wrong, God chastised him, punished him in love, because David was a man after the Lord’s own heart—had a desire to do right—to do God’s will. As the needle of a compass may under certain circumstances be detracted from its normal condition of pointing toward the pole, just so some attraction at times influenced David and led him into a wrong course. But as soon as the besetment was past, or he was led of the Lord to see his sin, his heart returned fully to Jehovah, as the needle of the compass returns and again points to the pole. Therefore King David declared that life without God’s loving-kindness would be worth nothing to him; he would not appreciate his life if cut off from the favor of the Lord. This being the case, his lips would always confess the Lord—tell forth His loving-kindness, show forth His praises. [R5441 : page 118]

OUR ANOINTING FAR SUPERIOR

And this is still more true of us who are now the Lord’s truly consecrated children, who are daily striving to serve Him and to follow the Master. We who by the grace of God have come into covenant relationship with Him since the Atonement for sin has been made have become sons of God, and have been begotten of the Holy Spirit. We have come thus into the anointed Body of Christ. We have not been anointed to an earthly throne, as was David, but our anointing does more: it anoints us to a Heavenly Throne, to share in the rulership of the entire earth.

No king or emperor on any earthly throne can hope to reign for more than a few brief years. But those who shall be accounted worthy to reign with Messiah, to share His Throne, shall reign for a thousand years. And this is only the beginning of their glory. Our Father in Heaven, who is now training and preparing us for this glorious exaltation through His Only Begotten Son, with whom we are to reign, gives us the assurance that

He will be with us to guide our way; that all things shall work together for good to us, because we love Him and are called according to His purpose.

So we, above all other people in the world’s history, [R5441 : page 119] have the loving-kindness of God manifested toward us. We have His exceeding great and precious promises. We are the recipients of His special love. And the more we appreciate this love and these glorious promises and the bountiful provisions of His grace, the more our hearts respond in gratitude, the more His loving-kindness becomes a reality to us, and the more are we ready to lay down our lives in His service.

It was thus with Jesus. He preferred the Father’s favor above all else. And He, through the Father’s arrangement, opened up this new and living way for us, that we, by becoming His disciples, may share with Him God’s special loving-kindness and matchless promises, granted only to those “who follow the Lamb whithersoever He goeth.”

Surely our lips shall praise our God! And not only so, but our pocketbooks, our bank accounts, and our influence shall praise Him! All that we have shall praise the Lord; and all that we ever hope to have!

“I LOVE TO TELL THE STORY!”

We who have come to realize our Father’s unspeakable favor to us as better than this present life with all it could have to give, we who have joyfully laid upon His altar every earthly good thing, every hope and ambition, every power of our being, rejoice to tell the Good Tidings of Salvation to others. We rejoice to sound forth the praises of Him who hath called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.

The Message is too good to keep!

If we could not proclaim it, it would be as a burning fire shut up in our bones; so we must tell it. And we are willing that the telling of it shall cost us trouble, cost us money, cost us the misunderstanding and persecution of former friends, and possibly the breaking of home ties. We are willing that it shall cost us the frown of the world and of organized churchianity.

TEXT APPLICABLE ONLY TO SAINTS

The Prophet David in our text spoke prophetically of the Church of Christ. These words could apply to none other than saints of God. None but those who walk and talk with God would esteem His favor more precious and desirable than their earthly life. If we ask the average nominal Christian to weigh this matter, and tell us if he would exchange this life for the favor of the Lord—putting in one side of the balance all the good things, hopes, ambitions, family ties, social position, churchianity, esteem of men, and putting in the other side of the scale God’s favor—he will hesitate, and will eventually decide in favor of the things of this life.

The reason for this is that such do not highly appreciate Divine favor. They have heard and believed certain things about the Almighty, some of them true and some false; but the misrepresentation of God’s character and Plan, together with the worldly influences surrounding them, have largely neutralized and offset and made noneffective the truths which they have learned, and they lack confidence in the things unseen. Hence worldly interests outweigh their appreciation of Divine favor—ten to one.

Those who have, through the Plan of the Ages, come to see the loving-kindness and mercy of the Lord are, if they are children of God at all, being put to the test. If they are merely glad to find out that there is no place of eternal torture, and that God’s loving Plan includes the whole human race, their hearts are not touched to responsiveness by this manifestation of His great love. They will go on their way, rejoicing that they have been delivered from the bondage of error, but will be like the nine lepers who were healed by the Master, yet did not return to give Him the glory, nor to offer themselves in service to Him. And these, alas, are the majority! We are now in the great day of proving. Who will be able to stand the test in this evil time?

GOD THE SUN OF OUR SOUL

This loving favor of God, which is so appreciated by the true saints, is not a favor respecting future prospects and hopes merely, but it is the blessed possession also of the present life.

Gradually these come to prize the communion and fellowship of the Lord to such a degree that any interruption of this communion produces misery of soul. It brings an aching void that nothing else can fill.

This sentiment is beautifully expressed in the hymn we often sing:

“Sun of my soul, my Father dear,
I know no night when Thou art near;
O, may no earth-born cloud arise
To hide Thee from Thy servant’s eyes!”

The true child of God will walk so closely with Him that nothing, however sweet or precious to the natural man, will be permitted to shut from him his Father’s face. This would be esteemed a calamity with which nothing else could compare. He would rather cut off anything as dear as a right hand, or pluck out of his life anything as precious as an eye, than that it should come between himself and his Heavenly Friend, whom He has come to love above all else beside.

God is truly to these the Sun of their soul, without whom life would become the blackness of night.

“THE DARKNESS HATETH THE LIGHT”

Some professed disciples of Christ may say that a Christian life will not cost earthly friendships; that such an idea is an exaggeration; that it is an extreme view of what is required of a Christian; that a course which produces such a result is an unreasonable one. But no! Our Master’s words are as true today as when they were spoken: “If ye were of the world, the world would love his own; but because ye are not of the world, therefore the world hateth you.” (John 15:19.) The declaration of the Apostle still holds good: “Yea, and all who live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”2 Tim. 3:12.

Why did the Master suffer the loss of social position and of favor with the churchianity of His day? Why did the Doctors of Divinity and the notables among the religionists hide their faces from Him? Why did they finally become so embittered against Him that they crucified Him? Was it because of evil-doing on His part? Nay; for He went about doing good. It was because He told the truth. He declared truths which they themselves recognized as such, but with which they had so mixed the “traditions of the elders” that they were too stupefied, drunken and blinded to take anything but a perverted view of our Lord’s work and teachings. Their hearts were not in the right attitude before God. “The darkness hateth the light.”

The Master’s persecutions came not from the outside world, but from the professed holy people of His time. So has it ever been since, and so is it today. Those who now oppose the Truth are not worldly people outside of the churches, with but few exceptions; but they are zealous sectarians, whom Satan has blinded with his false doctrines and misrepresentations. We are not to be surprised, therefore, that wherever the Truth goes it will be a Sword to separate, as our Lord declared.

These conditions prove a test to the followers of Jesus.

Are we willing to bear the hatred, the scorn, the contumely, which loyalty to the Truth brings?

Is our Father’s loving favor more, far more, to us than the favor and smiles of the whole world—even more, far more to us than life itself?

[R5441: page 120]

THE GLORIOUS HARP OF THE AGES

If so, we can go forth in His name, rejoicing as we go, praising Him with our lips, singing the New Song which he hath put into our mouths, “even the loving kindness of our God.” It costs something to sing this song. Only those who have learned to play upon the Harp of God, who have all its strings attuned to perfect harmony, can properly render this “Song of Moses and the Lamb.” Never until today has it been possible to produce such melody from this wonderful Harp; for never before have all its chords been properly placed and attuned. Now its music is entrancing! Then let us take this wonderful Harp of the Ages, and as we sweep its chords, let us sing with the spirit and with the understanding this wondrous, glad New Song!

====================

“My Saviour” — Christ Jesus

Here are some free online articles in relation to the Heavenly Father — Jehovah, and his Son — Christ Jesus — “a ransom FOR ALL … to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:6), as well as, about the holy Spirit (the invisible power and influence of God) with clear explanations about why the anti-Christ teaching of “the trinity” — introduced by the Roman Catholic Church system (the “Beast” in the Book of Revelation) — is not what the Bible teaches. The Bible Student Movement does not support the teaching of purgatory nor does it support the Roman Catholic System’s teaching about people being sent to a place where they burn up forever, which certainly does not reflect the perfect love of God — the Almighty Creator of all things.

Hence, for the interested Reader, we urge you to consider the following articles and posts:

The Doctrine of the Trinity – Mystery or Confusion by Br. David Rice.
http://www.heraldmag.org/1999/99nd_3.htm

The Origin of the Trinity – From Paganism To Constantine by Sr. Cher-El L. Hagensick.
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/Contents/doctrine/The%20Origin%20of%20the%20Trinity.htm

Facts About the Trinity
http://www.heraldmag.org/olb/contents/doctrine/FACTS%20ABOUT%20THE%20TRINITY.htm

God and the Trinities
http://www.heraldmag.org/literature/doc_42.htm

Development of the “Trinity Doctrine” by Br. Tom Gilbert.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2010d.pdf

Understanding John 1:1 by Br. Richard Doctor.
http://www.beautiesofthetruth.org/Archive/Library/Doctrine/Mags/Bot/90s/2010d.pdf

Father, Son and Holy Spirit
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/23/father-son-and-holy-spirit/

What Is the Heavenly Father’s Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/27/gods-name-what-is-the-heavenly-fathers-name-that-we-are-to-hallow-and-why/

Jesus – The Name
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

Who Is The World’s Ransom and Why?https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/29/who-is-the-worlds-ransom-and-why/

The Doctrine of Christ – Booklet
http://www.biblestudents.com/docs/DoctrineChrist.pdf

Hymn Book Purchase

The Hymns Of Dawn (hymn book) can be purchased at:
The Chicago Bible Students Online Bookstore: https://chicagobible.org/product-category/books/page/4/
The Dawn Bible Students Association: http://www.dawnbible.com/dawnpub.htm

Acknowledgment & References

  • Br. Charles Taze Russell

pastor-russell-in-his-study.jpg

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

The following prefatory to the 1905 publication of Hymns of Millennial Dawn may be of historical interest to many of our readers.

We published in 1890, with several more recent editions, a volume entitled “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” without music. The same collection of hymns with the music is now urgently needed, and therefore appears in this volume. The poems, although highly prized, are omitted for greater convenience in size. We have preserved the same alphabetical order, because so many of our readers have the older book; and where a different tune is given from that originally suggested the latter is indicated by Alt. for alternative tune, with the number where that tune can be found.

Both words and music are credited to the same class to whom the work is dedicated—to the Lord and His faithful people, “the Saints.” The authors of many of the best of them are unknown to us, and, besides, slight changes have been made in the phraseology and sentiment of quite a number, which we could not be sure their original authors would approve, and to give personal credit to less than one half would seem invidious. To all of these dear “Saints” of all ages we therefore give united and hearty thanks for the blessings which they, as the Lord’s servants and handmaidens, have bestowed upon their fellow-members of “the Church of the Firstborn, whose names are written in Heaven.” Most of them died long ago: their abundant reward will be of the Lord in the resurrection.

That the collection is thoroughly undenominational, unsectarian, will be manifest to those recognizing the fact that it includes the choicest old hymns and tunes used by all denominations.

Although we have gathered far and near and winnowed carefully we cannot hope to have gotten all the golden grains, though we do hope that no chaff can be found. The collection is for the Church, for “believers” “reconciled,” and hence contains none of the “sinners” hymns, such as “Come, ye sinners poor and needy,” because willful sinners are in no sense members of the “Body” of Christ, nor are those who have not yet accepted the Lord as their Savior.

Those who will feel the deepest interest in this collection, and whose sentiments will be most fully voiced in its verses, will undoubtedly be those in fullest degree of sympathy with the divine plan of the ages, as set forth in the several volumes of Millennial Dawn – the eyes of whose understanding have been opened to the clearer, purer light now shining from our great Redeemer’s cross, showing the fulness and the completeness of his salvation.

In fact, this volume, while not numbered as one of the volumes of the Millennial Dawn series, is designed to be a companion volume, a melodious accompaniment to the “new song,” “the song of Moses and the Lamb” (the grand harmony of the Law and the Gospel), as presented in the regular Dawn series.

Let the music of God’s good and great plan ring through your hearts and lives, dear fellow-pilgrims and fellow members of the “royal priesthood,” so that every day and every hour shall be filled with joy and praise and thankfulness! And that this little volume may assist in deepening the work of grace in your hearts is our hope and prayer.

– Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society, July, 1905, Allegheny, PA, USA

——-

Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled “Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

Suggested Further Reading

What is Love?
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/03/20/what-is-love/

Worthy To Be Praised
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/05/15/worthy-to-be-praised/

The Lord Is My Shepherd, (R.1396) — Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence.

 

This post’s URL:
https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2018/06/19/his-loving-kindness-hymns-of-dawn-no-19/

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Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed? – Hymns of Dawn No. 5

Alas! And Did My Savior Bleed?

Bible Scriptures Associated With This Hymn

“7 For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation (Romans 5:7-8, ESV).

But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people” (Psalm 22:6, ESV).

“44 It was now about the sixth hour [12 noon], and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour [3 p.m.], 45 while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. 46 Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last. 47 Now when the centurion saw what had taken place, he praised God, saying, ‘Certainly this man was innocent!’ 48 And all the crowds that had assembled for this spectacle, when they saw what had taken place, returned home beating their breasts. 49 And all his acquaintances and the women who had followed him from Galilee stood at a distance watching these things” (Luke 23:44-49, ESV).

“12 ‘This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 These things I command you, so that you will love one another.’ 18 ‘If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you.19 If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.21 But all these things they will do to you on account of my name, because they do not know him who sent me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have been guilty of sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 Whoever hates me hates my Father also.24 If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father. 25 But the word that is written in their Law must be fulfilled: ‘They hated me without a cause.’” (John 15:12-25, ESV).

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22).

Lyric

1.
Alas! and did my Saviour bleed?
And did my Sovereign die?
Would he devote that sacred head
For such a worm as I?

Chorus
Jesus died for you,
And Jesus died for me;
Yes, Jesus died for all mankind;
Bless God, Salvation’s free!

2.
It was because we were undone
He groaned upon the tree.
Amazing pity! grace unknown!
And love beyond degree.

3.
Well might the sun in darkness hide,
And shut his glories in,
When Jesus, God’s Anointed, died,
For man, undone by sin.

4.
Thus might I hide my blushing face,
While his dear cross appears;
Dissolve my heart in thankfulness
And melt mine eyes to tears.

5.
But drops of grief can ne’er repay
The debt of love I owe;
Here, Lord, I give myself away,
‘Tis all that I can do.

The History Of This Hymn –

Author – Isaac Watts (1674-1748)

Isaac-Watts-hymn-author
The father of Isaac Watts was a respected Nonconformist, and at the birth of the child, and during his infancy, twice suffered imprisonment for his religious convictions.
Isaac was the eldest of his nine children, who’s taste for verse showed itself in early childhood and he was taught Greek, Latin, and Hebrew by Mr. Pinhorn, rector of All Saints, and headmaster of the Grammar School, in Southampton. At the age of 16, he went to London to study in the Academy of the Rev. Thomas Rowe, an Independent minister.
Leaving the Academy at the age of 20, he spent 2 years at home; and it was then that the bulk of the Hymns and Spiritual Songs (published 1707-9) were written, and sung from manuscripts in the Southampton Chapel. At the age of 24 years, he became assistant minister of an Independent Church in London, and 4 years later, he became pastor. In 1712, he accepted an invitation to visit Sir Thomas Abney, at his residence of Abney Park, and at Sir Thomas’ pressing request, made it his home for the remainder of his life. It was a residence most favourable for his health, and for the prosecution of his literary labours. He did not retire from ministerial duties, but preached as often as his delicate health would permit. The number of Watts’ publications is very large and embrace sermons, treatises, poems and hymns. His published hymns number more than 800. It is as a writer of psalms and hymns that he is everywhere known. Some of his hymns were written to be sung after his sermons, giving expression to the meaning of the text upon which he had preached. 

ComposerNo information found.

Hymn Book Purchase

The Hymns Of Dawn (hymn book) can be purchased here:

The Chicago Bible Students Online Bookstore: https://chicagobible.org/product-category/books/page/4/
The Dawn Bible Students Association: http://www.dawnbible.com/dawnpub.htm

Acknowledgment & References

Br. Charles Taze Russell

pastor-russell-in-his-study.jpg

Br. Charles Russell—the founder of the Bible Students movement, who is the compiler of “Poems and Hymns of Millennial Dawn” which was published in Allegheny, Pa., in 1890. This Bible Students’ devotional originally contained a total of 151 poems and 333 hymns.

POEMS-AND-HYMNS-OF-MILLENNIAL-DAWN

Later on, the hymns from this book formed a basis for the hymnal titled ““Hymns of Dawn” which was published by the Dawn Bible Students Association in East Rutherford, New Jersey (USA) and the 1999 edition contains a total of 361 hymns.

Hymns of Dawn.jpg

Hymnary.org.

 

The URL of this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/10/11/alas-and-did-my-savior-bleed-hymns-of-dawn-no-5/

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JESUS – The Name

Psalm-34-8-1.jpg

There are many names and titles of Jesus found in the Bible, and each of them contains a description or illustration of his life and work. Let us examine some of those names, and gain the lessons to be found in the deeper meanings in Jesus’ name.

Jesus

First, let us look at the most familiar name, Jesus. Matthew 1:18‑23 tells about the angel of the Lord appearing to Joseph in a dream explaining to him to call the boy who would be born to Mary “JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”

“Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” These words directly reference the words of Isaiah 7:14.

Bible dictionaries tell us that Jesus is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Joshua and both these names are English adaptations of these respective forms of the word just as Elisheba (the wife of Aaron, Exodus 6:23) is a Hebrew form, and Elisabeth (mother of John the Baptist, Luke 1:5) is a grecianized form, but both of these names also are English adaptations. The full form of the name Joshua has two parts—Jeho‑shua, or Jehovah‑shua, meaning Jehovah saves. Later, this name assumed the form Jeshua (sometimes pronounced Yeshua), from which came the Greek form Jesus. But the Hebrew origin of the Greek name Jesus literally means Jehovah saves, or, God saves, and that name was given to our Lord to describe the mission of his life, to save the people from their sins, as we just read in Matthew 1:21.

Why did not Joseph call Jesus’ name Immanuel, like Isaiah prophesied? Here’s where understanding the meaning of names makes everything clear.

The word El means might, strength, power. The Schofield Reference Bible states that God (El) signifies the Strong One. In the Old Testament El refers not only to God, but also to mighty men of earth. The word El was often made part of peoples’ names to include a reference to God. For example, the name Elijah, or El‑i‑Jah, begins with El and means Jehovah is God. The name Daniel, or Dan‑i‑El ends with El and means God is my judge.

Here is a list of text containing the Hebrew word El for your consideration with a link for each from the Strongs Concordance: Genesis 31:29, Deuteronomy 28:32, Psalm 36:6, Proverbs 3:27, Isaiah 45:20, Psalm 89:6, Psalm 82:1, Exodus 15:11, Psalm 29:1, Psalm 50:1.

“Notice the above texts carefully and critically and all will agree that the context in every case shows the meaning of the Hebrew word El to be powerful one. How clearly it is stated in the last three quotations that JEHOVAH is the chief “el” and ruleth over all other el—powerful ones. And it should be known to all, that JEHOVAH is the name applied to none other than the Supreme Being—our Father, and him whom Jesus called Father and God. (John 20:17.) The meaning then of the words ‘Mighty God’ in our text, is,—He shall be called the mighty powerful. And so he is, for to him the Father has given all power in earth and heaven—(Matt. 28:19, and 11:27.) ‘He is Lord of all’next to the Father for “The head of Christ is God.” (1 Cor. 11:3.) They are one in mind, purpose, etc., because Jesus gave up his own will and took the Father’s (John 5:30) just as we must give up our will, mind, spirit and receive the Father’s if we would be made heirs of God, joint-heirs with Jesus Christ our Lord. Does any one ask further proof of a distinction of persons? If so we request such to read Matt. 22:44—Jesus’ application to himself of Psa. 110:1, remembering that the words used by David, translated Lord [Master] are totally distinct and entirely different words, the first one being Jehovah, and the other adon. We give Young’s translation of this verse—’The affirmation of Jehovah to my Lord—sit at my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.’(Reprint 296, Watch Tower and Herald of Christ’s Presence)

Immanuel

In the name Immanuel, the suffix ‑El is at the end, which tells us that the word God is part of that name. Bible dictionaries say that the first part of that name, Immanu, means with us. Thus, the entire name means God is with us. Indeed, God was with mankind in that He turned His favor toward mankind when he gave us his only begotten son to be Jesus—the savior of the world.

Since both names, Jesus and Immanuel, convey the thought of God sending his son Jesus to be the savior of the world, what is the deeper meaning of the name Jesus—which the son of man was to be named by Joseph?

It is salvation! But what does “being saved” mean?

Let us first explain what the Bible says is the punishment for sin.

Is it Hell?

No. It is simply death.

The Bible answers in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death.” God’s punishment upon Adam in the Garden of Eden extends to all of Adam’s progeny, the entire world of mankind, as explained in the following three Scriptures.

“And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die” (Genesis 2:16,17).

“Wherefore, as by one man [Adam] sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned” (Romans 5:12).

“Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me” (Psalms 51:5).

This scripture explains to us that death is unescapable. Right from birth, humans inherited the penalty God imposed upon Adam, and that is why everyone dies.

The good news of salvation is all about being saved from death.

What are we saved to, and how? The Bible answers in the following way.

“(3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; (4) Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. (5) For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; (6) Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:3‑6).

“(21) For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. (22) For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:21, 22).

The word ransom means a price of release. As by one man’s (Adam’s) sin of disobedience, death came upon him and all mankind, so too, by one man, Jesus, mankind is saved from the just penalty of death. Jesus’ willing sacrifice of his life on the cross provided a ransom, a price of release for Adam and all mankind. The scales of God’s justice remain balanced, yet mankind is allowed relief from the penalty of death. They can be freed from condemnation because Jesus provided the price of release by accepting the penalty upon himself. Mankind may thus be freed from condemnation, and released from death in a resurrection.

Those who come into Christ presently are released from condemnation now. Romans 8:33,34, “Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. (34) Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.” Others will have their condemnation lifted during the Kingdom (Revelation 22:3).

Now the deeper meaning of the name Jesus is clear: we have the whole picture of salvation, and its two main features—the ransom and the resurrection. Jesus is the savior of the world because by his ransom sacrifice he saved mankind from death, to a resurrection to life. We also gain a correct understanding of the nature of man, specifically that he is mortal human flesh, and does not have an immortal soul. For if man had an immortal soul that could not die, then there would be no need for the resurrection of the dead, which is so clearly taught in the Bible.

And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John 2:2).

Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace

What will this resurrection be like, and when? Let us answer that question by considering the five names of Jesus found in Isaiah 9:6,7 (a prophecy of Jesus’ birth, and a scripture we often hear read or even sung in Handel’s Messiah).

“(6) For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

(7) Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever.”

The first few words of Verse 6 refer to Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago. The rest of these two verses fast‑forward to a time yet future, as the tense changes from present tense (“unto us a child is born”) to future tense (“and the government shall be”). It is apparent that Jesus’ government, Jesus’ kingdom of peace, is not yet established with judgment and justice. When it is, all mankind will say, this is the government we have always wanted, but never had. This promised government, this kingdom, was the most frequent topic Jesus preached about, during his three and a half year ministry on earth. When Jesus taught his disciples, and us, how to pray in the model prayer, He included these words.

“Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth, as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10).

In Isaiah 11:9 we read, “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

Mountain is used as another word for kingdom or government. The earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord, just as the Apostle Paul wrote in that scripture we read earlier, “God wills that all men will come into a knowledge of the Truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Jesus will be mankind’s Counselor, or teacher, in that Kingdom.

When will Christ’s kingdom be established “on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:10)? Examining John 18:36 sheds light on the answer to this question. In the context, Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate to answer the charge that claimed Jesus had committed treason against Caesar by claiming to be King of the Jews, which if true would be punishable by death, hence why Pilate put the question directly to Jesus in John 18:33. “Art thou the King of the Jews?”

Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).

At first reading, it might be thought that Jesus is saying, I am indeed a king, but my kingdom is not of this world, this planet, this earth; my kingdom is in heaven. But that is not what Jesus is saying. A closer examination of the names of Jesus helps us gain a deeper understanding of his life and work. The word world in Jesus’ reply is kosmos in Greek and it means order. When Jesus said, my kingdom is not of this kosmos, he was as if saying, I am not establishing my kingdom now; it is not of this present order, but there is a new world order coming. And when it does, that new world order, that new social order, that new kosmos, will be my kingdom, here on earth.

In relation to the resurrection to life in God’s Kingdom on earth, some sincere Christians believe that this world will be destroyed by literal fire (based on Scriptures such as 2 Peter 3:12) and that only the true followers of Jesus who have done their best to live a righteous life will be saved from destruction by being taken up to heaven.

That is not what this means.

In fact, Ecclesiastes 1:4 says the opposite: “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.”

How do we harmonize these two seemingly contradictory scriptures?

We do so by recognizing that 2 Peter 3:12 is symbolic. Here the Greek word for elements is stoicheion, which, like that other Greek word, kosmos, means an orderly arrangement. It is describing the end of the old social order of things in this present evil world, not the end of the planet.

In Ecclesiastes 1:4, the Hebrew word for earth, means the dirt, the planet—these will never pass away.

Coming back to the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6,7

Jesus will be the world’s Counselor, instructor, teacher, and guide to give assistance and direction, whereby the billions of resurrected people will return to harmony with Jehovah and to the enjoyment of the blessings provided through the ransom.

His name, The Mighty God, or Mighty, Mighty One, will be recognized then, on earth, as well as in Heaven. As the Heavenly, Divine Being he became after his own resurrection, he will have all the power necessary not only to resurrect mankind, but also to bring to pass justice and righteousness for everyone.

The name, The Everlasting Father, will apply to him as the Life‑Giver of the world, during the thousand years of his reign. In all that time he will be giving “life more abundant” to mankind—everlasting life to all who will obey him—therefore his title, The Everlasting Father, or the Father who will give everlasting life to humanity, is a fitting one. All the world of mankind, resurrected on the human plane, will obtain their right to everlasting life as human beings in an earthly Paradise from their Redeemer, who will then be their King.

His name, The Prince of Peace, will not apply to Him at the beginning of His reign when He will be tearing down the old order of this Present Evil World. However, true peace will speedily be established and he shall be known as The Prince of Peace, whose reign will be undisputed and uncontested. “Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end,” there will be no rebellion, and his kingdom will not pass away.

Combining all these names and the future works they reveal to us, his name will be Wonderful—the one who will be recognized by all as the embodiment, the expression, of Divine Justice, Love, Wisdom, and Power. That will be the Kingdom on earth for which Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth.”

King of Kings and Lord of Lords

Another name or title of Jesus mentioned in 1 Timothy 6:15: “Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords.

The meaning of this title is fairly straightforward, and this scripture also tells us what the other Scriptures have been telling us about Christ’s kingdom, namely, that it is not yet fully established, but will be, in his times, and we believe that time is soon as we will examine a little later.

Christ

A Bible dictionary gives the following definition for the name Christ:

(1) Jesus of Nazareth (Jesus Christ), regarded by Christians as fulfilling Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah,
(2) The Messiah or anointed one of God as the subject of Old Testament prophecies.

An ordinary dictionary says that Christ comes from the Latin Christus, which in turn comes from the Greek Khristos, which means anointed. Thus, the name Christ carries the thought of, anointed. We can understand that because we have a few English words derived from Christ which convey the idea of anointing. We speak of babies and even ships being christened, with some ceremonious application of a liquid in the manner of anointing.

So when we say the compound name “Jesus Christ,” we are saying, Jesus Anointed, or Jesus, the Anointed one.

What, then, is the deeper significance of this name of Jesus, Anointed, or the Anointed One?

In Old Testament times, a special anointing oil was prepared according to a formula given by God Himself in Exodus chapter 30. It was to be used only to anoint the persons who were to serve as Israel’s priests, as well as the furniture and utensils used in the sacrifices God commanded the nation of Israel to offer on various occasions. This anointing signified that the ones being anointed were authorized to serve as priests. This holy anointing oil was so restricted in its usage, that if anyone used the holy anointing oil for any other purpose, or if anyone concocted an oil like the holy anointing oil, they were to be put to death (Exodus 30:32‑33).

A different oil was also used to anoint Israel’s kings, in a type of inauguration ceremony, to signify the authority of the one being anointed to legitimately assume the office of King. The one doing the anointing was often a prophet whom the people recognized as God’s spokesperson; authorized by God to anoint a king to his office.

We can think of these words anointing, or anointed, as an Old Testament equivalent of what we commonly see today when a president, or governor, or other high official, is sworn into office by placing his hand on a Bible and taking the oath of office administered by a judge or other official.

We now see that this term, Christ, defined as anointed, has a deeper meaning of authorized by God Himself to serve in the capacity or office given to them.

Messiah

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The word “Messiah” comes from a Hebrew term meaning “to smear or anoint.” When grease or oil was applied to objects by Israelites, the commonly used term was “anoint.” However, the name “Messiah” is used in reference only to persons, rather than to “anointed” objects. As mentioned before while discussing the name Christ, persons who were anointed had been appointed and given authority for specific offices and tasks given to them. So, then, “Messiah” is the Hebrew equivalent of the Greek name, “Christ.”

Since Old Testament times, Jews have been looking for the Messiah to come and fulfill all the prophecies that foretold his work of delivering Israel from their oppression as a people, and their scattering as a nation. Even today, religious and even non‑religious Jews will say something like, “When Messiah comes, Israel will prosper and the world will be a better place.” So the name Messiah has a connotation of deliverer to the Jews. This matches nicely with the equivalent name Christ, because ever since Jesus died and was resurrected, Christians have been looking forward to his return, or coming again, as mankind’s deliverer. Thus the name Messiah is associated with Jesus’ return. Jews in general do not believe that Jesus Christ is their long awaited Messiah. But when they see the establishment of his kingdom and how it meets and exceeds their grandest expectations, they will.

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The restitution, or restoration, of all things means to restore mankind, and the earth, to the perfection Adam and Eve enjoyed in the Garden of Eden.

The spiritual part of the restitution phase has begun since our Lord’s second presence (invisible to the world, but visible by the eyes of understanding to the spirit begotten of the Gospel Age).

The presence of Christ is referred to by the word parousia in the New Testament, in scriptures such as Matthew 24:3 (where the word “coming” is properly translated “presence”).

NOTE: See booklet titled : “I WILL COME AGAIN”

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When mankind is restored to perfection, then they will be tested individually, as Adam was.

If they are obedient they will live—if they are disobedient they will not.

In that future test, mankind will have the enormous advantage of their past experience with sin and its consequences, that will enable them to

choose life through obedience, and pass the test.

This doctrine of Restitution now gives us the third “R” in a trio of precious truths concerning salvation:

RRR.jpg      

Christ, Revisited

Let us now consider our key scripture, Colossians 1:26,27.

“(26) Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: (27) To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is, Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

Remembering that the anointing represents authorization to a work or office, like the priests and the kings of Israel, this passage tells us that Jesus’ close, footstep followers, can be, like he was, anointed or authorized to join him in his kingdom work.

Is not this thought incredible!

The following Scriptures support this:

  • “If we suffer (with him), we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” (2 Timothy 2:12).

 

  • “To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life” (Romans 2:7).

 

  • “For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53).

 

  • “Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years” (Revelation 20:6).

This means that there are actually two resurrections, and therefore, two salvations (See the HOPE & RESURRECTION posts: PART A, PART B, and PART C).

There is a first resurrection, now during the Gospel Age (from Christ’s ascension until the end of the age of the High Calling, ending six millenniums of the permission of evil), to a salvation of glory, honor, and immortality in heaven (Romans 2:7). This is for the very few who share in Christ’s sufferings by living their lives as peculiar people, a Royal Priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), following in Jesus’ footsteps.

Then there will also be a general resurrection in the future, on a perfect earth, of the rest of mankind, to a salvation in God’s kingdom.

Why is it taking so long for the Kingdom Jesus taught us to pray for, to come?

Why is it taking Jesus so long to establish his kingdom and do all the things his names imply?

Here is the answer:

Before the general resurrection and earthly salvation can begin, the first resurrection to the heavenly salvation must be complete. Romans 8:19 explains:

“The earnest expectation of the creature [all mankind] waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God [the completion of the Bride class].”

All this truth is embodied in the name Christ—Jesus, the anointed redeemer, and the anointed class, his footstep followers, who will reign with him as kings and priests in his kingdom.

Summary

By examining the several names and titles of Jesus and their meaning, deeper illustrations of our Savior’s teachings, life, and work can be learned.

  •  In the name Jesus we see his work of salvation, from death to life, which the doctrine of the Ransom teaches us about.

 

  • In the names Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting father, the Prince of Peace, we see when that due time when that Ransom will have its fullest effect. It will be in the coming Kingdom on earth for which Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy Kingdom come.” In that Kingdom the resurrection will take place. Everyone who has ever lived since Adam and Eve were created will be raised from death to life by the Everlasting father or life‑giver and taught by that Counselor in the peaceful kingdom where none will hurt anyone else.

 

  • In the name Messiah we see the return of Jesus when the spiritual phase of the restitution period begins, after which time shall commence the process of resurrecting, teaching, and guiding mankind back to the perfection enjoyed by Adam and Eve before sin entered the world. Since restitution means to restore to a previous state or condition, here mankind shall be restored to perfect bodies, perfect minds, and perfect characters. After that restitution work is complete, everyone in that kingdom will be equipped and ready to pass the test that Adam failed: obey and live, disobey and die. But this time mankind will have the enormous advantage of experience with sin and its consequences, which will enable them to choose life through obedience, and live.

 

  • In the name Christ, which means anointed and is the New Testament equivalent of the Old Testament word Messiah, we see Jesus, authorized by God to be our Savior and to accomplish all things required for the salvation of mankind. More than this, the scriptures tell us that there is also an anointed class of Jesus’ true footstep followers who are also called to be assistants in Jesus’ work for mankind in the kingdom. These footstep followers will have a first resurrection in heaven, following which will come a resurrection for the remainder of mankind on earth. This is the key doctrine of the two salvations.

 

In learning about Jesus’ life and work, we have gained some key insights into commonly held misconceptions that are not supported by the scriptures. We have seen that there is no Hell of torment, and that man does not have an immortal soul.

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[NOTE: The word “many” in the above Matthew 20:28 verse reaffirms that many are involved in being freed from the sentence of death. Thus similarly, in Romans 5:19—many were constitutes sinners but really, ALL of us were (Ecclesiastes 7:20, Romans 3:10, 1 John 1:8).]

Hymns of Millennial Dawn No. 96

AUDIO [Hymn 96] – The Name of Jesus

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It makes the wounded spirit whole
And calms the troubled breast;
‘Tis manna to the hungry soul,
And to the weary, rest.

Dear name! the rock on which we build,
Our shield and hiding place;
Our neverfailing treasure, filled
With boundless stores of grace!

Jesus, our Shepherd, Saviour, Friend,
Our Prophet, Priest, and King,
Our hearts in gratitude ascend;
Accept the praise we bring.

We would thy boundless love proclaim
With ev’ry fleeting breath;
And sound the music of thy name
Abroad through all the earth.

References:

“In Jesus Name”—Public Lecture by Br. Joe Megacz December 2016.
URL: https://chicagobible.org/public‑lecture‑in‑jesus‑name/

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Reprint 296-297 from The Reprints of the Original Watch Tower and Herald of  Christ’s Presence. The Everlasting Father.
URL: http://www.htdbv8.com/1881/r296.htm

Hymns of Millennial Dawn—URL: http://www.htdbv8.com/indexhd.html

Further Suggested Bible Study Material:

“The Ransom” video power point presentation discourse by Br. David Rice
URL: http://bibleresources.info/ransom‑david‑rice/

Soul and Spirit. Faithbuilders Fellowship. January 2006.
URL: http://2043ad.com/journal/2006/01_jan_06.pdf

Free Booklet titled: “I Will Come Again – John 14:3”
URL: https://chicagobible.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/I-WILL-COME-AGAIN.pdf

Immortality and the Human Soul. The Dawn Magazine. 1959
URL: http://www.dawnbible.com/1959/5904tbs1.htm

The Doctrine of Christ—Booklet.
URL: http://www.biblestudents.com/docs/DoctrineChrist.pdf

How Does “the Son of Man” Title, Speak Volumes About Jesus?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/06/10/how-does-the-son-of-man-title-speak-volumes-about-jesus/

Acts 23:6—HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART A: What Is Jesus All About?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/03/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-a-what-is-jesus-all-about/

Acts 23:6—HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART B: Will Mankind Resurrection With The Same Mind?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/05/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-b-will-mankind-resurrect-with-the-same-mind/

Acts 23:6—HOPE & RESURRECTION. PART C: The Order Of The Resurrection Process.
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2016/11/11/acts-236-hope-resurrection-part-c-the-order-of-the-resurrection-process/

God’s Name—What Is The Heavenly Father’s Name That We Are To Hallow And Why?
URL: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/06/27/gods-name-what-is-the-heavenly-fathers-name-that-we-are-to-hallow-and-why/

Acknowledgment:

  • Br Joe Megacz—content of this post.
  • Br David Rice—editing assistance.

The URL of this post: https://biblestudentsdaily.com/2017/07/05/jesus-the-name/

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Where Does “Christmas” Originate From?

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The Christmas season is the most enjoyable time of the year for many who think upon the events surrounding the gift of Jehovah to the world—his firstborn Son, our Lord Jesus as a special gift to the human family, but is the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, truly appreciated in its full sense?

You see, the true reason for Jesus’ birth was that he would give his life as a ransom price for the sins of every single human that has lived.

The apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:1-6).

In John 3:16 we read that “God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

The Greatest Message of Joy

The angel in Luke 2:10-14 was announcing God’s greatest gift to his poor, sin-sick and dying human creation: A SAVIOR… The “ransom for ALL to be testified in due time” when Christ’s future kingdom of righteousness will soon be established on earth, and when “God’s sons” (the Bride of CHRIST—the 144,000, shall be all beyond the vail and “revealed.” (1 Timothy 2:6, Romans 8:19)

The birth of Jesus had been foretold by the Prophet Isaiah:

“Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Isaiah 9:6,7).

Isaiah’s prophecy speaks of Jesus as the antitypical King David, and that he would in due time assume the several and distinct offices of his yet future kingdom as outlined in the prophecy.

At that future time, our loving Heavenly Father would entrust the glorified Jesus to exercise the great power and authority that would be given him to bless all the families of the earth as promised to the true and faithful “seed” of Abraham (Genesis 22:15-18; Acts 17:31).

At Christmas when the world’s attention is drawn to the birth of our dear Lord Jesus, we must acknowledge that he left us with no instructions to celebrate his birth date.

However, Jesus did give us instructions to memorialize his deathinviting us to partake of the emblems and to remember his death. (Matthew 26:26-30; Mark 14:22-26, 1 Corinthians 11:17-34).

In the Book of Luke, Jesus’ words spoken to his followers at the last supper on Nisan 14th (the day of unleavened bread when the Passover lamb was to be sacrificed) are as follows:

“(17)And he took the cup, and gave thanks, and said, Take this, and divide it among yourselves: (18) For I say unto you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine, until the kingdom of God shall come. (19) And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me. (20) Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:17-19).

An Ancient Holiday Season

Although many Christian people continue to observe December 25th as the date of Jesus’ birth, there is no scriptural evidence for this date. Many students of the Bible have come to the conclusion that the blessed event took place around the beginning of October, as we have explained in the post titled Calculating the Date of Jesus’ Birth.

The Winter Solstice

Many ancient cultures chose the Winter Solstice as a special time for celebrating Christmas—which was the terminal point between the darkest days of the year, and the time when the sunlight would begin to increase. That is, when the path of the sun has reached its furthest southern position. The word “solstice” literally means “the sun stands still.”

The time of the Winter Solstice was determined using very primitive and imprecise methods—measuring the length of the shadow created by a stick or a standing stone, which in turn, was dependent on clear weather to create a shadow and to make their calculations as accurate as possible.

In pagan times, the Winter Solstice was seen as part of an annual cycle of the earth’s seasons known as “the wheel of the year.” They celebrated eight festivals including the spring, midsummer, fall, and Yule seasons. Four others were spaced midway between each of them. These festivals have origins in Germanic and Celtic pre-Christian feasts.

Yuletide Celebrations

The Yuletide festival was one of the ancient traditions that was observed in many areas of Europe, the British Isles, and elsewhere. The word Yule relates to the Christmas season and the time when the sun reverses its downward path and begins to shine longer each day.

The actual time may vary a few days over the course of years, but usually occurs sometime between December 21st – 23rd.

Fathers and sons would bring home large logs, which they would set on fire. The people would feast until the log burned out, which could take as many as 12 days. The Norse believed that each spark from the fire represented a new pig or calf that would be born during the coming year. The log was believed to bring good luck to the occupants of the dwelling. Ashes from the log were placed in wells to keep the water pure and they were also placed at the roots of fruit trees and vines to help them bear an abundant harvest during the following year.

The end of December was also when most cattle were slaughtered, thus, the only time of year when they had a supply of fresh meat and most wine and beer made during the year was finally fermented and ready for drinking.

In Germany, people honoured the pagan god Oden during the mid-winter holiday who they were terrified of, as they believed he made nocturnal flights through the sky to observe his people, and then decide who would prosper or perish. Because of his presence, many people chose to stay inside.

Saturnalia

In Rome, where winters were not as harsh as those in the far north, Saturnalia—a holiday in honour of Saturn, the god of agriculture—was celebrated. Beginning in the week leading up to the winter solstice and continuing for a full month, Saturnalia was a hedonistic time, when food and drink were plentiful, when slaves would become masters for this month and when peasants were in command of the city. Business and schools were closed so that everyone could partake of this pagan “fun.”

Mithraism

Another of the Winter Solstice festivals was the celebration of Mithra—annually observed by the people of ancient Persia in honour of the Persian god Mithra who was considered the deity of light, wisdom, and moral purity. For some Romans, Mithra’s birthday was the most sacred day of the year and celebrated on December 25th.

The celebration of Mithra was later introduced into Europe and other areas of Asia Minor after the conquests of Alexander the Great (in early 300 BC) but it began to lose much of its influence by the end of the fourth century. With the rise of Constantine the Great in the fourth century, Christianity was then elevated to the prominent position as the official religion of the Roman Empire. Therefore, the ancient traditions and various observances of the old pre-Christian era gave way to the new Christian religion and its festivals.

The Christian Era

Who Established the Christmas December 25th Date?  

In the early years of Christianity, Easter was the main holiday; the birth of Jesus was not celebrated. During the early centuries of the Christian era, religious leaders wanted to establish a fixed date to celebrate the mass of Christ, which was called Christmas.

It is commonly believed that the church (that is, Pope Julius I—a bishop of Rome from AD 337 to his death in AD 352) chose this date in an effort to adopt and absorb the traditions of the pagan Saturnalia festival.

First called the Feast of the Nativity, the custom spread to Egypt by AD 432 and to England by the end of the sixth century. By the end of the eighth century, the celebration of Christmas had spread all the way to Scandinavia. Today, in the Greek and Russian orthodox churches, Christmas is celebrated 13 days after the 25th, which is also referred to as the Epiphany or Three Kings Day.

By holding Christmas at the same time as traditional winter solstice festivals, church leaders increased the chances that Christmas would be popularly embraced, but gave up the ability to dictate how it was celebrated.

By the Middle Ages, on Christmas believers attended church and afterwards celebrated raucously in a drunken, carnival-like atmosphere. Christmas became the time of year when the upper classes could repay their real or imagined “debt” to society by entertaining less fortunate citizens.

Christmas is Outlawed In the Early 17th Century

In 1645, Oliver Cromwell and his Puritan forces took over England and they vowed to rid England of decadence and, thus Christmas was cancelled through these efforts, even being known to be outlawed (from 1659-1681) in Boston. However, by popular demand, Charles II was restored to the throne and, with him, came the return of the popular holiday.

In fact, Christmas wasn’t declared a federal holiday until June 26, 1870.

The Christmas Tree – A Pagan Custom Brought to Christianity

Long before Christ, evergreen trees and plants have been used to celebrate winter festivals.

Early Romans used evergreens to decorate their temples at the New Year’s celebration of the Saturnalia festival, and exchanged branches and twigs of evergreens as a good luck blessing.

The ancient Egyptians used green palm rushes as part of their worship of the god Ra.

Pagans in Europe believed that because the evergreen tree stayed green throughout the year and could withstand the rigors of an extreme winter, they had magical abilities to ward off the life-threatening powers of darkness and cold. Thus they were considered to possess powers over evil spirits, which some ancient pagan civilizations of northern Europe believed stalked the eerie shadows of the wintertime forests.

During the winter months, evergreen wreaths and other forms of greenery were hung over doors and windows and brought inside the house to protect one from the darkness and evil spirits. The incense from burnt needles and cones as well as the scent from this greenery would freshen the dark and dismal dwellings from the otherwise stagnant odour of thresh and straw and was considered a means of blessing the occupants of the home.

The evergreens served as a reminder that the rigors of winter would pass, and that the land would once again be fruitful.

Many historians believe that the pagan people of Scandinavia were among the first to actually bring evergreen trees indoors, which served as a mid-winter symbol of the promise of the coming warmth of spring.

German Saxons are believed to have been the first to light their trees with candles, and to adorn them with decorations and trinkets for good fortune. The tradition of the indoor evergreen tree became popular in Germany, and it is believed that the first use of Christmas trees by Christians was developed in that part of Europe. Some historians have suggested that its origin may reach back as far as the eighth century.

In England, the first recorded Christmas tree was in 1841. At that time, Queen Victoria was married to Prince Albert of Germany, and he brought the tradition with him and set up the first Christmas tree in Windsor Castle.

German immigrants to America also brought the tradition with them and were celebrating Christmas with evergreen trees as early as the 1830s. The custom took several decades to catch on in the United States. During that period of time, most religious people correctly assumed that it had pagan origins. However, by the 1890s the indoor decorated Christmas tree had become popular in the majority of homes in America.

The Truth behind the Word “CHRISTMAS”

The word “CHRISTMAS” is based upon an impure doctrinal foundation: THE ROMAN CATHOLIC PAPAL SYSTEM—the ANTICHRIST of the Bible—was identified by the Reformers of the Early Church, such as Martin Luther.

The Papal system fit the description found in 2 Thessalonians 2:4:

“…who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God…”

The evidence to the Reformers in confirming the identity of Antichrist was the doctrine of the Mass. The ritual of the Mass claims to recreate and sacrifice over and over Christ’s actual flesh (bread) and blood (wine). Known as the Eucharist, it became a requirement that each believer must receive this fresh sacrifice of Christ to cover his daily sins. Daniel 11:31 refers to this as “the abomination that maketh desolate.”

The Mass makes desolate or negates the full merit of Christ’s blood which was shed once for all.” (Hebrews 7:27; 10:10)

It is important to note that the Protestant Reformers were careful not to condemn any individual Catholic believer as Antichrist—recognizing that no man is The Antichrist. Popes, bishops, priests and others have been only parts of, and, possibly, innocent members of the corrupt Antichrist system.

Jesus Christ’s Commission On Earth

At the age of maturity (30 years), the perfect man Jesus presented himself to his Heavenly Father in total consecration and obedience to do his will.

Jesus fulfilled the words that the Psalmist David had written concerning him:

“Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest. I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation. Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me” (Psalm 40:7-11).

In Luke 4:18-19, Jesus explains to us his commission:

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”

“To the poor”—In his sermon on the mount, Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3).

“Heal the brokenhearted—Jesus was to heal the brokenhearted, and he said, “Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Luke 11:28).

“Preach deliverance to the captives”—Isaiah’s account reads, “To proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound” (Isaiah 61:1).

When Jesus quoted Isaiah’s prophecy, he used the word “bruised” which means to crush, as in death. The reference to “captives” points to the prison house of death. In his sermon on the resurrection of the dead, he said, “The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live” (John 5:25).

“To preach the acceptable year of the Lord”—speaks of the special invitation which has been extended to the called by God during this present Gospel Age who are laying their lives down in sacrifice which is acceptable to God (Romans 12:1,2).

What is our Commission?—see post titled Jesus’ Commission: Make Disciples. Baptize. Teach.

We, too, are commissioned to preach the Gospel to the poor, groaning creation. If we are faithful unto death, we will have the great privilege to share with our glorified Lord in his future kingdom of righteousness over all the people of earth. Let us renew our efforts to serve him as we approach another new year.

May we continue to give thanks to our loving Heavenly Father for his gift of Jesus, in whom the whole human family will be blessed under the provisions of his future kingdom of life and righteousness.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

“Let us remember: Jesus did not tell his disciples to celebrate his birth. Therefore, it is not important when we choose to remember this wonderful event. Because love and appreciation for our Savior abound in people’s hearts on December 25th, we may join in their attitude of glad remembrance. And the habit of giving gifts to one another seems especially appropriate. God is the giver of every good and perfect gift. Certainly, amongst all His gifts, the one of greatest important to us is the gift of His Son to be our Redeemer” (Chicago Bible Students Website, Questions and Answers).

Reference:

The Dawn Magazine, December 2005, “The Birth of a Savior: Tidings of Great Joy.”
The Dawn Magazine, December 2011, “The Yuletide Traditions: and the Winter Solstice.”
The End Times, Fall 2005, Issue No. 34 – “Anti-Christ – the Counterfeit Heavens.”
Chicago Bible Students Website: Questions and Answers (www.chicagobible.org)

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Worthy to Be Praised

Psalm 63,3 -with cross

Let us begin with the words from the Reprints of the Original Watchtower and Herald of Christ’s Presence, reprint 5802, entitled “The Ministry of Sorrow” which reads in part as follows:

“In every experience of sorrow and distress, and when the strain of the jarring discords and the stinging vexations, and wounds that make the heart bleed, threaten to overwhelm the spirit, let the child of God remember that “He knows, and loves, and cares,” and that His ministering angel is ever near us, and that no trial will be permitted to be too severe. The dear Master is standing by the crucible, and the furnace heat will never be permitted to grow so intense that the precious gold of our characters shall be destroyed, or even injured. Ah, no! If by His grace the experiences may not work for our good, they will be turned aside. He loves us too well to permit any needless sorrow, any needless suffering.”

Our Heavenly Father is the God of all comfort and whatever difficulties His children encounter, because we are under His peculiar care, His compassion and watch care are ever present and he is most worthy of our praise.

Psalm 63:3 reads: Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, my lips shall praise thee.”

What are some of the means God uses to comfort us?

Here are several, including: conventions, the ecclesia arrangement, prayer communication, God’s overruling providence, Hymns and Psalms, Scriptures that provide doctrinal instructions, scriptures that contain precious promises for our meditation, guardian angels that intervene on our behalf when necessary and of course the Holy Spirit which enables us to appreciate and comprehend the Father’s tender mercies.

Ultimately, praise also will be an integral part of the human family’s make up, when they realize in the Kingdom the scope of what the Heavenly Father has done for them through the magnificent sacrifice of Jesus as well as the part we the body of Christ will have to play in helping to restore mankind back into heart harmony with God during that glorious Millennial reign.

We would like to suggest the 24th Chapter of Isaiah speaks of the judgments that will end this present evil order and then comment on what follows in Isaiah 25:1-9 which we feel pictures the expressions of humanity as a result of that glorious Kingdom in operation and mankind progresses up the Highway of holiness. So we will read each of these verses followed by a brief comment as to how we view these matters. 

Isaiah 25:1 — O Lord, thou art my GOD; I will exalt thee, I will praise thy name; for thou hast done wonderful things; thy counsels of old are faithfulness and truth.”

Here we would suggest Israel would desire to praise Jehovah especially for bringing them through Jacob’s trouble and ending the oppression they have endured at the hand of others. Similarly, others who fear God and recognize the restraint of evil and the opportunity for blessings will echo heartfelt worship to the Almighty and his Christ as they recognize the reign of righteousness that has commenced.

“2For thou hast made of a city an heap; of a defenced city a ruin: a palace of strangers to be no city; it shall never be built.”

The may well refer to the destruction of Mystic Babylon. Those who were once blinded under the influence of the adversary and the dogmas that vilified God’s character will worship the God of love and demonstrate a similar attitude towards their fellow creatures.

“3Therefore shall the strong people glorify thee, the city of the terrible nations shall fear thee.”

The iron rule that will be in force.

Every knee must bow and every tongue must confess and accept the gracious provision on their behalf made possible through the redemptive merit of Christ in order to gain everlasting life.

“4For thou hast been a strength to the poor, a strength to the needy in his distress, a refuge from the storm, a shadow from the heat, when the blast of the terrible ones is as a storm against the wall.”

This might refer to the downtrodden in this present life who were insignificant nobodies, but when Christ reigns in equity and justice, when the Spirit and the Bride say “come” all who have been athirst will be able to partake of the water of life freely.

“5Thou shalt bring down the noise of strangers, as the heat in a dry place; even the heat with the shadow of a cloud: the branch of the terrible ones shall be brought low.”

“6And in this mountain shall the LORD of hosts make unto all people a feast of fat things, a feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow, of wines on the lees well refined.”

Throughout the reign of sin and death the human family has been starving for blessings and a ray of hope that things might be better for them. What joy they will have as they see the work of restitution in progress. The wine of pure doctrine will bless them abundantly.

“7And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the vail that is spread over all nations.”

This seems to speak about the eradication of the death sentence and the removal of the blindness that has covered the eyes of the human family, thus preventing them from seeing the glory and goodness of the Father.

“8He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”

This would be a fulfilment of Revelation 21:4,9 — And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.”

“9And it shall be said in that day, Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”

When the kingdom is established the human family will begin to comprehend his attributes and as they prosper under that arrangement how much they too will increase in their ability and desire to praise our Creator.

We have attempted to describe why the church now and the world during the Kingdom reign will have much reason to praise our Heavenly Father.

I would like to conclude with something that appeals to me by sharing the following concerning a well-known hymn — “All The Way My Saviour Leads Me.”

This great hymn was written by Fanny Crosby (1820–1915).

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When Fanny was 6 weeks old, she caught a slight cold & had inflamed eyes. The family physician was away. Another country doctor was called in to treat her. He prescribed hot mustard poultices to be applied to her eyes, which destroyed her sight completely! It was later learned that the man was not even qualified to practice medicine. Fanny never felt any resentment against him, but believed it was permitted by the Lord to fulfill His plan for her life.

This is what Fanny Crosby said to her mother one day:

“Mother, if I had a choice, I would still choose to remain blind … for when I die; the first face I will ever see will be the face of my blessed Saviour.”

And another of Ms Crosby’s quotes:

It seemed in­tend­ed by the bless­ed prov­i­dence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dis­pen­sa­tion. If per­fect earth­ly sight were of­fered me to­mor­row I would not ac­cept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been dis­tract­ed by the beau­ti­ful and in­ter­est­ing things about me.

Fanny’s spiritual development came from her grandmother who cared for her while her mother worked as a maid. A landlady, Mrs. Hawley, helped Fanny memorize the Bible. Often she learned 5 chapters a week!  She entered the New York City Institution for the Blind around 1835, completed training, and taught there from 1847 to 1858. In 1858 she married a musician, Alexander Van Alstyne, who was also blind.

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Under her own name, as well as under a curious assortment of initials and pen names, she wrote over 8,000 hymns, including: “I Am Thine, O Lord,” “Praise Him, Praise Him,” “Sweet Hour of Prayer,” “Blessed Assurance,” “Safe In The Arms Of Jesus,” “To God Be the Glory.”

Fanny needed five dollars one day and she just knelt down and told the Lord about it. Soon after a stranger knocked at her door as he just wanted to meet her. As he left, he pressed a five dollar bill into her hand. “I have no way of accounting for this” she said, “except to believe that GOD put it into the heart of this good man to bring the money”. “My first thought was that it is so wonderful the way the Lord leads me, and I immediately wrote the poem”.

In 1874, Fanny Crosby wrote the hymn “All The Way My Savior Leads Me”.

All the way my Savior leads me;
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, whate’er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well.

I do not know whether Fanny Crosby was a spirit begotten child of God, but as I reflect upon her life, I can only hope that each of us will be more appreciative of the blessings we have today in Christ and will desire to live a life of praise daily for all our Heavenly Father has done for us. AMEN.

ALL THE WAY MY SAVIOUR LEADS ME

 

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