SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
2 Samuel 5. Golden Text. Psalm 21: 7.
1. The Coronation of the King (vv. 1-5). 2. The Habitation of the King (vv. 6-9). 3. The Recognition of the King (vv. 11-12). 4. The Subjection of the King’s Enemies (vv. 17-25).
Our lesson falls under two headings:
Seeking the King, Serving the King. The
once rejected David is now sought after by the tribes of
David was taken from the lowly place of the sheepfold, and
after long waiting and much testing was exalted to reign over
David is a type of the Greater Shepherd and Captain the Lord
Jesus Christ, and this chapter sets forth in typical illustration like a
panorama events to come. The Greater
David is now rejected by
All must seek the Greater David, and all must serve Him now if they are to have any part or lot in His glorious reign. To those who bow the knee acknowledging Him as Saviour and Lord, and who serve Him faithfully, prepared to suffer with Him even unto death, He gives the radiant promise, “Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me in My throne even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne” (Rev. 3: 21).
Joseph Rabinowitz was a lawyer
residing in Kischimeff,
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1 Kings 10: 1-13; 11: 4-13. Golden Text. Luke 9: 25 (R. V.).
1 Kings 10: 1-13. 1. The
Reputation of Solomon (v. 1). 2. The Reception of the
This lesson may profitably be dealt with under three aspects: Personally, Typically and Practically.
Personal. Tremendous is the contrast between the
exhaltation and denunciation of Solomon.
Humility characterised the beginning of his reign, but humilating was
its end. When God said to him, “Ask what I shall give thee,” Solomon humbly asked for
wisdom, and God, pleased with his choice, granted also riches, wealth and
honour (2 Chron. 1: 12), and made him the
greatest king the world has ever known.
To him also was given the commission to build the
2. The Typical. It is clear that Solomon is a type of Christ.
The name Solomon means “Peaceable,” and in his days peace and quietness was
given to Israel, a type of Him Who is the Prince of Peace, and Who
during His millennial reign will inaugurate peace and rest to this
restless chaotic world (Psalm 72: 7). Wealth and glory marked Solomon’s reign to an
extent unknown before or since, and which will not be again until He Who is the
Greater than Solomon reigns as King of Kings and Lord of Lords. To Solomon was given wisdom, but Wisdom shall
then sit on the throne and “all nations shall call Him
blessed” (see Psalm 72.). The
3. The Practical. Solomon’s glory and downfall is a tremendous lesson to us. It is a painful revealing of the self life. The effect of one wilful act is like the effect produced by allowing a single drop of ink to fall into a glass of pure water, the whole becomes contaminated. True [eternal] life, wisdom and glory is only to be obtained from God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Coming to God by faith we are justified from all things, but there must be added a constant walk with Him in a sanctified life in order to please Him.
A relief life-boat was built at
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Acts 2: 1-13. Golden Text. Acts 1: 8.
1. The Waiting Disciples (v. 1). 2. The Outpouring of the Holy Spirit (vv. 2-4). 3. The Speaking in Tongues (vv. 4-8). 4. The Proclaiming of the Truth (vv. 9-12). 5. The Convicting of the Multitude (vv. 11-12).
According to the command of
their Lord the disciples were gathered together with one heart and purpose
waiting for the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. Pentecost comes from the Greek numeral
signifying fifty, being the fiftieth day after the presentation of the wave
sheaf in Passover week (Lev. 23: 15-21).
After Christ “our Passover” (1. Cor. 5: 7) was slain for us and had risen from
the dead as the “Firstfruits” (1 Cor. 15: 20), fulfilling the type of the wave
sheaf, then came the fiftieth day, the day of Pentecost, and the great
outpouring of the Holy Spirit. On that
The promise of the Lord of the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14: 16, 17, 26) was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the presence and power of the Holy Spirit was manifested “as a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind,” filling the house, and “cloven tongues like as of fire” which “sat upon each of them.” Filled and empowered by the Holy Spirit they began to “speak with other tongues,” proclaiming the mighty works of God and various nationalities heard the wonderful truth of God. The multitude was convicted, although some mocked and cried out, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” Then Peter said unto them, “Repent and be baptised every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” Three thousand souls gladly responded and were born again, repenting of sin and being baptised.
How striking is the contrast between Sinai and Pentecost. At the giving of the Law three thousand souls were slain for disobedience (Ex. 32: 28); at the coming of the Holy Spirit three thousand souls were saved through obedience to God’s call.
The outpouring of the Holy Spirit meant the transforming of
the disciples. The weak were made
strong, the cowardly, courageous. No
longer betraying, forsaking, hesitating, but willing and rejoicing to witness
for Christ and to endure suffering for His sake even unto death. Those too who received the Lord as Saviour
were empowered to witness, and, scattered abroad by persecution, boldly “went everywhere preaching the Word” (Acts 8: 4).
“Within one generation - with no modern
facilities for travel and transportation, and for the translation and
publication of the Word; without any of the now multiplied agencies for
missionary work - the Gospel message flew from lip to ear till it actually touched
the bounds of the
This is now the dispensation of the Spirit, and we give a fourfold outline of His Person and Work. 1. His Personality. God the Holy Spirit (Gen. 1: 2; Matt. 28: 18; John 15: 26; Acts 8: 29; Rev. 22: 16). 2. His Presence (John 14: 16; Rom. 8: 9; 1. Cor. 2: 12; 6: 19). 3. His Performing. Convicting (John 16: 8). Creating (John 3: 5). Teaching (John 15: 26, 27; 16: 13; 1 Cor. 2: 9, 10). Interceding (Rom. 8: 26). Conforming (Gal. 5: 16-22; 2 Cor. 3: 18). 4. His Power (Acts 1: 8; Rom. 15: 13, 19).
The Blessed Spirit is still working in our midst, but the time is short, and the urgent need is that hearts yield to His gracious pleadings, receiving and confessing the Saviour and going forth to witness for Him “filled with the Spirit.”
The changes wrought in
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1 Cor. 9: 24-27; Phil. 3: 12-14; Heb. 12: 1-2. Golden Text. Heb. 12. 1, 2a.
1 Cor. 9: 24-27. 1. The Race and the Reward (v. 24). 2. The Runner and the Rules (vv. 25-27). Phil. 3: 12-14. 1. The Unattained Prize (v. 12). 2. The Unabated Perseverance (v. 13). 3. The Unquenched Passion (v. 14). Heb. 12: 1, 2. 1. The Personal Consecration (v. 1). 2. The Patient Continuance (v. 1). 3. The Perfect Conqueror (v. 2).
Spiritual life is vividly depicted under various figures, and the one before us is that of the Athlete. The figure is taken from the Greek athletic festivals, with the focus especially upon the oldest and most famous of the events, the footrace. The Christian life is therefore portrayed as a strenuous, self-denying, sacrificial contest. To enter the Greek contest certain conditions had to be fulfilled. They had to prove they were of pure Greek blood, that they had not forfeited the right of citizenship by misconduct, and had undergone the ten months’ training and diet prescribed. The first step to entering the Christian contest is to possess the life of Christ. As only a Greek of pure blood could enter the Greek contest, and there was no exception, so is it in the Christian race. Every runner must have been born into the family of God through faith in Christ Jesus as Saviour and Lord. The race begins at the Cross, and everyone must first possess His badge of pardon, peace, purity and power. Having then the essential condition of entry, there is set before us the Race and the Reward. Three things will characterise the runner filled with the holy ambition of obtaining the prize. He will give earnest attention, put forth strong exertion, and possess unwavering determination. Only those who have this attitude of heart can hope to win. Then we must be stripped for the race, unhindered by any encumbrance. “Laying aside every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us.” What are the weights? “The cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, and the lusts of other things” (Mark 4: 19). We must keep the flesh in subjection and exercise self-denial and self-restraint. In short, there must be death to the self-life, and absolute personal consecration. The will must be wholly yielded to God, and only His will sought. There must be the continual reckoning of ourselves dead to sin, and in order to win the great reward of the sanctified life there will needs be the refraining from that which is lawful, because it is not expedient. In our own strength all this is impossible, and is only made possible by the power of God given us through the Holy Spirit (Eph. 1: 19-21). Paul’s cry must ever be ours, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4: 13). Paul declared that he had not attained the perfection desired nor grasped the prize, but forgetting past attainments he pressed forward with unabated perseverance, with patient continuance and unquenched passion, having his eye upon the perfect Example and Conqueror, his Lord and Master. He who would win the prize must keep to the track, “strive lawfully,” be watchful and continue instant in prayer.
What is the prize? Not a fading laurel wreath, the reward of the Greek runner, but an incorruptible crown; a crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4: 8), and of life (Jas. 1: 12; Rev. 2: 10).
Jerry MeAuley, the notorious
On September 21st 1884, at the Broadway Tabernacle
He had run the race, lie had finished the course; the prize lay before him.
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2 Cor. 5: 20-6: 10. Golden Text. Matt. 20: 28.
1. The Call of the Believer (v. 20). 2. The Commission of the Believer (vv. 20-21; 6: 1-2). 3. The Conduct of the Believer (vv. 3-10).
How high and holy is the calling of the one who enters into the salvation and service of God by faith in Christ. There is no call so great as God’s. It is as high as heaven. It is from God, and therefore holy and heavenly both in character and consummation. The call is to be ambassadors, representatives of God. How wonderful is the mercy and grace of God that those who were once rebels against God should be made the representatives of God. Paul, the once raging antagonist of God, is transformed into the radiant ambassador for God.
Having responded to the grace of God and received the new life our citizenship is no longer here, but in heaven, and we are therefore ambassadors in a foreign land. The native soil and atmosphere of the child of God is Heaven, and here he is a stranger and pilgrim, merely passing through, representing his God, but taking no part in the world’s schemes, plans, or in the making of its laws. This is the true view of the ambassadorship of the believer. And what is the commission of the ambassador? It is to carry to the world a message from the Christ Whom he represents. That message is, “Be ye reconciled to God.” This message he carries from the King of Kings to rebels against the King, and declares the ground upon which they can be reconciled to God. That ground is, that Christ the Lord was made sin for us, bearing the penalty of sin resting upon, every rebel sinner, and all who come to God claiming the merit of the great Substitute receive a full and free pardon and are fully accepted. The ambassador’s declaration is that God’s time is now, and that procrastination deepens the rebel attitude, and leads to perdition. The call and commission of the ambassador being holy, so must he be in character and conduct. Tremendous is the responsibility resting upon him. The edge of the message must not be blunted by the conduct of the messenger. As the representative of Christ he must do nothing to dishonour Him. He must seek to be pure in heart, to give no offence, to be patient under adverse circumstances and the opposition of men, and to be longsuffering even when treated with stripes and imprisonment. His attitude must be one of love and kindness, and his armoury the righteousness and power of God, watching, fasting, and prayer. The ambassador has no self-defence. Like his Lord he goes out to serve in a self-less life, bearing all things, believing all things, hoping all things, enduring all things.
Dr. Chamberlain, a missionary in
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Rom. 12: 17-21; Matt. 5: 43-48; 7: 12-14. Golden Text. Matt. 5: 9.
As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are God’s precepts above the world’s standard and practice. The man of the world with his mind blinded by Satan cannot comprehend them; they are utterly contrary to his passions and pursuits, and outside his power to practise. These precepts then are for the [regenerate] believer, to be outworked in his life to the glory of God. They are not to he relegated to a future time, but to be obeyed and outworked in the present through the power of the Holy Spirit. Having the Spirit of Christ the Christian, in his surrender to his Lord, must be free from the spirit of retaliation, remembering Him “Who when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, threatened not.” He must “provide things honest in the sight of all men,” that is, take forethought for good before all that there be no inconsistency, giving the world the opportunity to point the finger of scorn. He must seek to live peaceable with all men, and not foolishly court the enmity of the world. As the beloved of God we are not to avenge ourselves, but to walk in love “with that strong and conquering love which wins by suffering,” taking the only “vengeance” allowed us, namely, the doing good and giving of food and drink to our hungry enemy that he may be convicted of his wrong and his spirit be melted in the fire of love. These precepts commanded of God to be obeyed by the believer, utterly shut out in life and practice the spirit and practice of war. Why must we not take vengeance? Because God declares, “Vengeance is Mine” - in My hand, not yours, to be dealt out in absolute justice - “I will repay.” In the Principles of the Kingdom, commonly called the Sermon on the Mount, the same truths are outlined. The principles are laid down by Him Whose word is final, God the Son, Who vividly sets before us the Law of Love. And the principles are to be embraced that we become like our Father. Believers are sons of God by faith in the Father and the Son, and as such we are to become like our God in character and disposition. “Love is God’s highest perfection: and His people now are to embrace and display this perfection” (Govett). And this love is to be extended to our enemies, those who hate us and seek to harm us. This love cannot be that of approval or complacency because we cannot approve of their wicked deeds, but we can love them, and must seek to love them with compassion and goodwill. This love must be exhibited by our acts. We are to “love them,” “bless them,” “do good to them,” and “pray for them,” even when they curse us, hate us, use us despitefully and persecute us. And no compulsion, either individual or governmental, should be allowed to turn us aside from disobeying this clear command of God. “Above all ... things put on charity (love) which is the bond of perfectness” (Col. 3: 14). Lastly, in Matt. 7: 12-14 The Golden Rule and The Two Pathways are set before us. Note the word “therefore” which connects all that has gone before. This Golden Rule is the substance of all God’s commands in the Law and Prophets concerning our duty to our neighbour. Before us is set the two gates and the two pathways. To embrace the principles of our Lord is to enter the narrow gate opening to the narrow way that is radiant with the glory of the life of God and the companionship of Christ, and fragrant with the atmosphere of the [Holy] Spirit. The wide gate opens to the broad road whereon these principles are rejected and scorned, but the way darkens to destruction. Hear the solemn words concerning the narrow way, “Few there be that find it.” How tremendous then is the responsibility of the teacher to tread the narrow way and lead the children into this pathway which brings us to the fulness of the [coming] glory of God.
A slave, who had risen high in the confidence of his master, saw one day, trembling in the slave market, a negro, whose grey head and bent form showed him to be in the last weakness of old age. He implored his master to purchase him. He expressed his surprise, but gave his consent. The old man was bought and conveyed to the estate. When there, he who had pleaded for him took him to his own cabin - placed him in his own bed; fed him at his own board; gave him water from his own cup; when he shivered, carried him into the sunshine; when he drooped in the heat, bore him softly to the shade. “What is the meaning of all that?” asked a witness. “Is he your father?” “No.” “Is he your brother?” “No.” “Is he, then, your friend?” “No; he is my enemy. Years ago he stole me from my native village, and sold me for a slave; and the good Lord has said, ‘If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.’”
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2 Tim. 2: 1-13; 1. Cor. 11: 1; 2 Tim. 4: 7-8. Golden Text. John 15: 13.
2 Tim. 2: 1-13. 1. The Exhortation (vv. 1-3). 2. The Illustration (vv. 4-7). 3. The Foundation (v. 8). 4. The Persecution (vv. 9-10). 5. The Coronation (vv. 1-13). 1. Cor. 11: 1. The Invitation. 2 Tim. 4: 7-8. 1. The Declaration (v. 7). 2. The Expectation (v. 8).
The Second Epistle to Timothy is Paul’s farewell letter to his son in the faith. Paul is facing a martyr’s death, and he pens this letter to his beloved Timothy, bidding him, in the midst of growing dangers and terrors, to be strong in his living Lord. He exhorts him to courage and effort by strengthening himself in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. The word “therefore” harks back to the previous chapter wherein Timothy is reminded of his holy home, of God’s gift, power and calling, of Paul’s sufferings and his Mighty Keeper in the midst of them. This leads on to the exhortation to Timothy to turn to his source of strength, the grace in Christ. In every circumstance he was to draw upon the resources of God, embracing the fulness of Grace that he might be empowered to witness, and enabled to endure. And this Grace is in Christ. But the two are inseparable, and after all it is Himself as our Source of Power, our Place of Safety and our Treasury of Fulness. In Him, therefore, Timothy is to strengthen himself, and that strength is to issue in the practical work of committing to others the holy Gospel committed to him. In this holy service; in the campaign of his Lord, surrounded by opposing and malignant forces, Timothy is exhorted to “endure hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” In order to enforce his appeal Paul sets before Timothy three illustrations of this intense life for Christ - the Soldier, the Athlete, and the Farmer. The first figure is that of a soldier on campaign, and as in the earthly sphere, the soldier is detached from all other interests and pursuits, so in the heavenly, the surrender to the Lord must be wholehearted, the separation from the world, complete. The illustration of the Athlete (v. 5) has already been dealt with in a former lesson, and we merely remark that the victor’s crown, the reward of the earnest life, can only be obtained by giving heed to the rules of life laid down by God. Thirdly, we have the Farmer. There is nothing spectacular in this occupation, and the lesson conveyed is the outworking as the Lord’s servant, in ploughing, sowing, tending and reaping, of that great and necessary quality, patience, the patience that fails not! Before Timothy is then brought the One Who is the Foundation of his faith and the Example of his life, the Risen Christ. “Remember Jesus Christ risen from the dead:” - a Conquering Saviour, a Compassionate High Priest, a Coming King.
To live for Him and to serve Him means that we shall endure suffering and persecution, declares the great Apostle, who was then himself in bonds, but to willingly know the “fellowship of His sufferings” is to enter into the fellowship of His sovereignty. The crowning of the suffering Saviour is linked with the crowning of the suffering saint. The Apostle invites us to follow his footsteps, for he followed in the path of Christ. He is conscious of having been a victor in the fight and could declare his certain expectation of receiving the crown from the hand of his Lord and Saviour Whom he served and adored. Let us follow our Lord all the way, so that at His Coming we may receive our crown of reward.
Some two hundred years ago, groups of weeping spectators stood
one day on the shore of the
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2 Sam. 6: 1- 19. Golder. Text. Psa. 24: 3, 4.
1. The Bringing of the
The ark had been captured by the Philistines (1. Sam. 5.), sent by thern
to Beth-shemesh (1 Sam. 6.)
and ultimately brought to Kirjath-jearim, where it
remained until sought for by
David. Having been
exalted by God to his great position David, in his love for God, desired to
bring the ark, the symbol of God’s Presence, to
In giving instructions concerning the ark God had said, “Thou shalt put the mercy seat above upon the ark ... and there I will meet with thee, and I will commune with thee
from above the mercy seat” (Exod. 25: 21, 22). But, alas,
This story conveys a lesson of love and zeal for God on the part of David to be emulated. God must have his rightful place. But service for God must be performed according to His Word. New methods are adopted, but are they scriptural? The “new cast” is a figure of present-day “Modernism,” the new teaching which is not the Gospel, but contrary to the Truth of God, and which is leading souls to disaster and death. The presumptuous bands laying hold of the holy things of God will only bring forth God’s stern judgment. Only can there be true fellowship with God; true service for God; true rejoicing in God, when He has His rightful place in our hearts and lives and when our walk and service is according to His Word.
He was a proper Scotch “sport.” He could handle the fly-rod,
and, a good shot, bring down the moorfowl or knock over the hares among the
heather. His boast was that Sunday was
his best day, for he easily sold his game for half-a-crown on Monday
morning. So he was never seen in Church
at Fenwick, some miles away. Its
minister, Mr. William Guthrie, was a successful fisher of souls for his
Master. He sought out the poacher and
reasoned with him, but to no purpose. At
length he said: “I will pay you the half-crown if you
will come to the house of God next Sunday.” The man closed in with the offer, and
presented himself at the
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1 Kings 19: 1-18. Golden Text. John 3: 8.
1. The Wickedness of Jezebel (vv. 1-2). 2. The Weakness of the Prophet (vv. 3-4). 3. The Watchfulness of God (vv. 5-18).
The test of life is not in the great events but in the
small. Elijah faced the hosts of
Jezebel, furious at the action of the prophet, threatened his life, and he took refuge in flight. After the exaltation there came upon Elijah deep dejection, and he sat down under a juniper tree and requested God that he might die. Did he think that when God’s honour was at stake He would undertake, and leave him unprotected? Had he for the moment got his eye off God? This was the momentary shadow on his life, but it was largely the result of his concern for God’s glory, and the spent physical forces after his strenuous stand for God.
How kind God is. His
purpose was to restore the soul of the prophet to its true poise and rest in
Himself even by word of reproof, but first He graciously ministered in
restoring his physical strength. Direct
from the hand of God came this loving ministration,
another proof of His wonderful tenderness and of His power and care. Refreshed,
Elijah arose “and went in the strength of that meat
forty days and forty nights unto Horeb, the mount of God.” Arriving at Horeb he lodged in a cave, and
there God spoke to him on the same mount where he spoke to Moses when giving
the Law. In answer to God’s
interrogation Elijah seeks to justify his position by declaring his zeal for
God’s glory, the wickedness of
The strong wind rent the mountains and broke the rocks; the earthquake moved the earth; the fire consumed with irresistible power, but it was the still small voice which pierced the heart of the prophet, and made him cover his face. God showed Elijah that He is able to make or break, able to protect, provide and preserve against all forces, and therefore will not allow His name or truth to be stamped out. Elijah’s pessimistic assumption was corrected, and God showed that the still small voice was able to penetrate hearts, and even in a day of idolatry, false profession, and corruption He had His seven thousand who would not bow the knee to Baal. This display of power was not given for Elijah alone, but also for our instruction and admonition. Even in the darkest days God has His own who are not prepared to fall down to the world’s idols, but willing at all costs to obey and serve Him. The history of the world is full of shining examples who witnessed for Christ, in dark days, even unto martyrdom. God would have us rest in Him at all times, keep our eyes fixed on Him, and remember that in His watchfulness He neither slumbers nor sleeps.
The commission is then given to Elijah to appoint his
successor and anoint Hazael king of
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2 Kings 6: 8-23. Golden Text. Psalm 34: 7.
1. Faith’s Vigilance (vv. 8-14). 2. Faith’s Victory (vv. 15-16). 3. Faith’s Vision (vv. 17-23).
Around us are numerous foes ever in active enmity against us, but the soul lighted with the life of God has been taught to discern the enemy. These foes ever seek to capture souls and many, many, who refused God’s deliverance have been overcome and doomed. The Syrian army is a picture of the great host against us, and the prophet Elisha a figure of the vigilant Christian ever on his guard, ever on the watch, and warning others. The great host is the spiritual forces of darkness with Satan at their head, and God has given us this warning, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5: 8). Faith must ever be vigilant.
The Syrian army had come up against
In the spiritual warfare the design of Satan is to capture Christians, and those who are outstanding for God in life and example he makes a special assault against, seeking to overcome them. But “we are not ignorant of his devices” (2 Cor. 2: 11).
The servant of Elisha going out in the morning is amazed to see the Syrian host and is stricken with terror. Returning to his master he exclaims in utter dismay, “Alas, my master! how shall we do?” Filled with the peace of God Elisha replied, “Fear not: for they that be with us are more than they that be with them.” This is Faith’s Victory; the faith that rests in the power of God and is fearless before the enemy. What a blessed word is God’s “Fear not,” which runs through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation. “Fear not,” said God to Abraham, “I am thy shield, and thy exceeding great reward” (Gen. 15: 1). “Fear not,” said the Risen Lord to John, “I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1: 17). This is God’s word to His children. And those who have enthroned Him in their hearts as God and Saviour can declare, “The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in Whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation and my high tower” (Psalm 18: 2).
The eyes of the servant were not open to see the host on their behalf, and Elisha prayed God to open his eyes. God heard and answered, and the young man saw “the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” This is Faith’s Vision; the spiritual eye that sees the hosts of God. Fire is the emblem of God’s Presence and Power. Standing with God we know we have the victory, for His power is irresistible.
In answer to Elisha’s prayer the Syrian army was smitten with
God is able to deliver ... and He will” (Dan. 3: 17).
By His power one man took captive a whole army, and led them to
We are told that the crown jewels in a certain European city lie exposed to view on what seems to be an unprotected table. One would suppose that burglars would soon carry off the rich booty. But the fact is, the table is not so defenceless as it looks, for a current of electricity is always being poured around it. Woe be to the hand that dares to touch! It would instantly be benumbed.
So an Invisible Protector surrounds the child of God, and that Protector is no less than God Himself. “He defends them against the assaults of all their enemies. Christ is a refuge in His righteousness and blood.”
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John 4: 19-26. Golden Text. John 4: 24.
The study before us is to review our previous lessons on the
For the purpose of our review we shall study the period under two headings:- (1) The United Kingdom Period, and (2) The Divided Kingdom Period.
The change from the Theocracy or Rule of God, to the Monarchy when
a visible kingdom was inaugurated and a visible king appointed was the result
The first king chosen was Saul, who began well, but through self-will reached a tragic end. His downward steps are recorded in 1 Sam. 13., 15. and 28.
David, the man of God’s choice, was appointed but before gaining the throne he passed through deep persecution at the hand of Saul. This persecution was a sore training for David, but whom God trusts He tests, and David nobly emerged from the test to take his place on the throne. Viewing him as the heroic Shepherd-boy, the sweet Psalmist, the valiant Conqueror, and the noble King, type of the Greater David to come, his life is a fruitful source of study.
The third and last king of this period was Solomon. Endowed with wisdom by God, he turned out of wisdom’s pathway, became an idolator, and was the cause of the division of the kingdom. Great however was his reign, his wisdom, and his achievements. Three books were written by him, his Song, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, calling for our earnest attention and meditation.
2. THE DIVIDED KINGDOM PERIOD
This commences the tragic history of the kingdom period, which
culminated in the captivity of the twelve tribes. The kingdom was divided into the
Following Solomon’s death Rehoboam became king, but as we saw
in a former lesson the ten tribes revolted and appointed Jeroboam their
king. This period of
The lesson again and again emphasised here is that to reject God and His Word, and to be outside His will, is to meet disaster and doom.
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Luke 16: 1-13. Golden Text. Romans 12: 17.
1. The Parable Unfolded (vv. 1-8). 2. The Prudence Demanded (vv. 8-13). 3. The Prize Awarded (vv. 9-11).
This parable is linked up with the former three of the Lost Sheep, the Lost Coin and the Prodigal Son, which were delivered before the publicans, whom the Lord had been comforting, and the Pharisees, whom He had been confounding.
In this parable of the Unjust Steward the Lord sets before the publicans their high duty as His disciples in contrast to their former extortion and dishonesty, and draws the attention of the Pharisees to the fact that a reckoning day is coming when their stewardship will have to be accounted for.
The property which this steward managed consisted not of money, but of allotments of land. Apparently he demanded excessive rents from the tenants, paid his lord a certain amount and retained the difference. On being demanded to give an account he realises his position and considers the problem. His one object was that, should he forfeit the stewardship he would be secure, and be certain of subsistence.
Calling his lord’s debtors to him he makes his arrangements so that they should be his benefactors in his position of need. Two examples are given us of his dealings. In the first case the contract is altered from one hundred to fifty measures of oil, and in the second from one hundred to eighty measures of wheat.
The steward endeavoured to secure himself both ways. The contracts would presumably show the amount paid to his lord, and the tenants would be gratified by the seeming favour done to them. The steward attempted to satisfy his lord and defeat the accusation, but if he failed, to be able to enlist the sympathies of the tenants and obtain a comfortable maintenance.
The object failed with his lord who evidently apprehended his purpose, but nevertheless he commends the prudence which he does not fail to see actuated the steward. This is the keynote of the parable.
Merely using the unrighteous steward as an object lesson, but not as an example of conduct, our Lord focusses attention on this needful quality, Prudence - the Prudence that fails not to obtain the prize.
Holding up this truth before believers – God’s stewards - the Lord applies it to the Character, the Conduct and the Consequence.
Verse 9 does not mean that we can purchase salvation, for that is of free grace, but the love of God characterising and filling the life of the prudent believer is revealed in the right use of earthly treasures; used with the single eye for God’s glory, for the purpose of leading others to the Lord, thereby making true friends in Christ who shall in heaven give him welcome. “Whoever really makes himself friends of the Unrighteous Mammon shows thereby that he finds his highest joy, not in the attainment of selfish purposes, but in the happiness of others.”
What is the consequence of this prudent life for God? His great reward. And the doctrines of grace and reward contradict one another in no respect. “It is not works that win us to Heaven, but Christ bestows eternal blessedness out of grace, on those who believe and have proved their faith in works of love and right use of earthly good” (Luther). And in order to obtain God’s reward there must be, not legal, but sanctified stewardship, the seeking of His [Millennial] Kingdom first and the single eye for His glory. Legal works done in the flesh and not the product of a life lived in the Spirit are not acceptable. Our life and service must be given over to Him in absolute surrender.
A colporteur was travelling in
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Matthew 20: 1-16 Golden Text. Micah 6: 8.
1. The Vineyard. 2. The Vocation. 3. The Vision. 4. The Verdict.
This Parable was called forth by the question of Peter in the previous chapter, and its keynote is service and reward. The verses (19: 30; 20: 16) prefacing and concluding the parable are to be noted, of which the parable is an illustration.
The vineyard is the kingdom of heaven; the householder is God; the steward is Christ in His capacity as judge, and the labourers are those who by faith have responded to the call and received eternal life. Every Christian is called to work in God’s vineyard, for in His economy there can be no idlers. The different hours appear to refer to the Church age and to the different periods of her history, but there is also an application to individual life and experience. Those called at the first hour agreed to labour for a penny for the day, but at the sixth, ninth, and eleventh hours, that which was just was promised as a reward to the labourers. The central truth of the parable is contained in the passages dealing with the giving of the reward. At the end of the day the steward called the labourers “beginning from the last unto the first,” and to the last was a penny given. The first seeing this expected to receive more, but they also received a penny, their agreed reward.
But with this they were dissatisfied and murmured. They complained that the last had only served one hour whilst they had borne the heat of the day, and inferred that “the goodman of the house” was dealing unjustly with them. The reply they receive is that no injustice is done them; on the contrary the promised reward has been given, but he who dispenses justice has also the right to dispense grace and give the same reward to those who worked in the last hour, willing to do so without knowing the reward to be granted. The parable is held up to the Apostles, Jewish Christians, and to the redeemed individually, showing that in the service what is vital is the attitude of heart of the labourer. The service must not be one merely of duty but of devotion. The first exhibited their legal hearts and that the spirit of their service was mercenary, envious and selfish. They did not rejoice that even at the last hour response was given to the householder, and workers entered the vineyard simply resting in his goodness, nor did they rejoice in the grace exhibited. “A mercenary spirit destroys the position of the labourer in the kingdom of God: he makes merchandise of the calling of God (instead of being a fellow-worker, he becomes an unfaithful hired servant); he converts the Word of God into mere traditions, the work of faith into a burden, the hope of reward into a claim, and the blessings granted into a judgment.” The lesson of the parable then is that whilst service in the vineyard is the calling of every Christian, that service to be acceptable for the high rewards of grace must spring from a heart of love and devotedness to God. Not merely serving for the reward’s sake in the narrow-souled legal spirit, but out of a loving heart and consecrated life to Him Who in infinite grace has given us the privilege of serving Him. So many - not all - that are first shall be last. Many are called into the service, but few are chosen for the exalted places in the coming age. To be amongst the chosen there must needs be loving, loyal, whole-hearted, willing service from lives walking in holiness and clothed with humility.
Whose heart has not thrilled at the story of Delia, the
sin-marred queen of a
* * *
Matthew 25: 14-30. Golden Text. Matthew 35: 21.
1. The Delegation of the Talents (vv. 14, 15). 2. The Demonstration of the Trading (vv. 16-25). 3. The Diligence Required (vv. 26-29). 4. The Deliverance of the judgment (v. 30).
Whilst the parable in our previous lesson showed the attitude of heart required in serving God, this parable reveals the activity and fidelity demanded.
The Lord is the “man travelling into a far country” delivering His goods unto His servants (believers). The distribution of the talents is in the proportion of five, two and one, and each received according to his ability. According to the known ability of each was the distribution made so that there could be no excuse for unfaithfulness, nor could any complain that the gift was greater than his power could sustain. The gifts are not natural endowments, but spiritual gifts distributed according to natural ability. Upon believers only are these gifts bestowed. They are Christ’s “own servants,” and are therefore made stewards for Him. “As every man hath received the gift even so minister the same one to another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God” (1 Pet. 4: 10). In a former lesson on the Unjust Steward we saw that in that parable the use of natural wealth is set forth, but here it is the management of spiritual riches. For the gifts see Eph. 4: 8, 11-13; 1 Cor. 12: 8-11, etc. The trading with the talents is the use of the gifts for the glory of God, and faithfulness in their use operates to the bestowal of more gifts. He who possessed the five talents made other five; and the two also gained other two.
The “long time” of the parable is the period of testing until the Lord returns. At His return He reckons with His servants. “Everyone of us shall give account of himself to God” (Roms. 14: 12). The possessor of the five talents showing that he has gained five more is commended by his hold, receives the reward of being made a ruler, and enters into the joy of his Lord. Likewise was it with the possessor of the two talents.
Then comes the one with the one talent, and he begins by accusing his lord. This accusation was made to cover his own negligence. Then he says, “I was afraid and hid thy talent.” The true reason was, he was afraid of the responsibility, and sought to evade it. His thought was centred on self, not on his lord. But his excuse is rejected, for his lord is angry and calls him “a wicked and slothful servant.” His accusations are unfounded, his neglect inexcusable, and he stands convicted before the other two. His talent is taken and given to the one who has ten. Lack of space prevents us from entering into all details of the parable. Solemn are the closing verses (29, 30) of the parable with the lord’s pronouncement on the slothful servant. Do these words apply to the [regenerate] believer? Yes, such a believer “suffers loss,” although they do not mean that he loses eternal life. No believer dare presume upon grace, or dare trifle with a holy God. To be pleasing unto our Lord means that we “give heed to His Word;” That ye be not slothful, but followers of them who through faith and patience inherit the promises (Heb. 5: 12).
“The first time I ever saw Mr. Moody,”
said Mr. Reynolds of
* * *
Luke 15: 11-32. Golden Text. Matthew 5: 39.
1. The Corruption and Contrition of the Prodigal (vv. 11-21). 2. The Compassion of the Father (vv. 22-27, 31-32). 3. The Condemnation of the Elder Brother (vv. 28-30).
To the Pharisees, publicans and sinners around Him the Saviour uttered the Parable of the Prodigal Son. By this parable He condemned the self-seeking of the publicans and sinners, and the self-righteousness of the Pharisees. The Lord pictured the rebellious son who, craving for a false freedom and enjoyment, requested his father to give him the portion of his estate that would ultimately fall to him, and left home for a far country. There in dissipation he wasted his substance, and a famine arising he sank to degradation and destitution. In the depths of his misery he came to himself, seeing the folly of his self-seeking, pride and sensuality, and his thoughts turn towards his father and home. Conscious of his guilt his thought turned to action, and he arose and went towards home. Nearing home, but whilst a great way off, he is seen by his father who ran to meet him, “fell on his neck and kissed him.” The son confesses his guilt, but is not allowed to speak out his full confession, for the Father interrupts by calling to his servants to bring forth the robe, ring and shoes.
This part of the parable reveals the awful and inevitable result of sin, but also pictures God’s love, compassion, forgiveness and blessing to the penitent prodigal.
The remainder of the parable deals with the elder brother. How much better he appears than the prodigal, but how wretchedly lost he is. Hearing the music and dancing in the house, he asks a servant what those things mean. On being told he refuses to enter. The father comes out to intreat him, and the conversation reveals the heart of the elder brother. He shows the selfish mind with which he had served his father. He received his father’s love and yet complains of receiving no reward. He vaunts himself of his virtue by declaring he has never transgressed a commandment, and yet he stands guilty of transgression in being void of grace, mercy and love. By his attitude he shows he neither loves the father nor his brother, but demands all for himself. Thus does our Lord expose and condemn the heart of the Pharisee.
The parable shows how all stand guilty before God, and the need of coming to Him in true penitence for the renewed heart whereby we may be accepted into His house, and enter the joy of eternal life.
There was a widowed mother in the Highlands of Scotland, whose daughter, her only child, left her home and went away, never letting her poor mother know where she had gone. At last, one night the lost child came home. Creeping up to the door, she found it unfastened. Entering, she was welcomed by her mother with great joy. When the greeting was over, the girl said: “Mother, why was the door left unfastened to-night?” The mother replied: “Never, my child, since you went away, has the door been locked, by day or night.” So it is with Christ. The door of God’s love is never locked, but the sinner refusing to return shuts himself out of God’s mercy.
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Matthew 18: 21-35. Golden Text. Ephesians 4: 32.
1. The Debtor’s Condition (vv. 21-22). 2. The Lord’s Compassion (v. 27). 3. The Debtor’s Cruelty (vv. 28-30). 4. The Lord’s Condemnation (vv. 31-34).
Again in answer to a question, of Peter the Lord unfolds a parable, which must be read in conjunction with the verses immediately preceding. The subject of the parable is Forgiveness between believers. The action to be taken in relation to the one sinning against you is shown in verses 15-20, and the attitude of heart to the same one is revealed in the parable. Vividly does our Lord set forth His truth, and His “seventy times seven” indicates the multiplied mercy required against the multiplied offences confessed. In order to enforce His message the Saviour pictures the relationship of two servants of a king in striking contrast. The one owed his king ten thousand talents, and thus was in dire circumstances, and on his confession of being unable to pay when requested the order was given for himself and his family to be sold. Throwing himself on the mercy of the king he pleads for patience, promising to pay. By the amount stated our Lord indicates that the infinite debt incurred could never be discharged. Although the debtor made a promise to pay this was nullified by inability and impossibility. Great was the debt, but greater the mercy exhibited. His lord released him and forgave him the debt.
How great his rejoicing! How filled with gratitude! What a generous and complacent outlook he would have towards his fellow-men. So we would think. But no! He goes out from the presence of his lord, and finding a fellow-servant who owes him a small sum - incomparably small in relation to his own debt - he violently lays hands on him and demands payment. But the fellow-servant is unable to pay and utters the same plea as his creditor before his lord, but the servant shows him no mercy and he is cast into prison. The servant with the infinite debt forgot his guilt and humiliation and the generous pardon extended him, and heartlessly, selfishly, and mercilessly dealt with his fellow-servant.
The other fellow-servants seeing this despicable conduct complained to the Lord who hailed before him the debtor he had forgiven. Charging him with his wickedness, he uttered his condemnation and judgment.
Applying the parable to those who have had infinite mercy extended them for their great debt, our Lord solemnly shows that to harbour an unforgiving spirit is to bring upon us God’s condemnation.
Anthony Blanc, one of Felix Neff’s earlier converts, was very earnest in winning souls to Christ. The enemies of the Gospel were angry at his success, and used alike scoffs and threats against him. One night, as he was returning home from a religious meeting, he was followed by a man in a rage, who struck him a violent blow on the head. “May God forgive and bless you!” was Anthony’s quiet and Christian rejoinder. “Ah!” replied his assailant, “if God does not kill you I’ll do it myself!” Some days afterwards Anthony met the same person in a narrow road where two persons could hardly pass. “Now I shall be struck by him again,” he said to himself. But he was surprised, on approaching, to see this man, once so bitter towards him, reach out his hand and say to him in a tremulous voice, “Mr. Blanc, will you forgive me and let it be all over?” Thus this disciple of Christ, by gentle and peaceful words, had made a friend of his enemy.
* * *
Luke 10: 29-37. Golden Text. Acts 10: 34b, 35.
1. The Neighbour Wounded (v. 30). 2. The Neighbour Neglected (vv. 31-32). 2. The Neighbour Rescued (vv. 33-37).
This parable arose out of the question of the lawyer (vv. 25-28).
“Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” The question was asked with the motive of
tempting Christ and apparently to see whether His, reply would be in accord
with the law of Moses.
The Lord answered by asking, “What is written in
the law? how readest thou?”
and the lawyer quoted in reply the very spirit and main substance of the
Law. The Lord commended the answer and
said, “This do, and thou shalt live.” The lawyer apparently took the words “This do” as an intimation
that although having this clear knowledge of the law he was not performing. The fact stood that because of sin and
weakness he was incapable of reaching this pinnacle of perfection, but refusing
to acknowledge his inability he barred the way to further instruction. Seeking to justify himself, he asked, “Who is my neighbour?” In answering, our Lord unfolded the
parable. A certain man went down from
But a Samaritan - the despised and hated foreigner inhabiting
the region of
This parable has, however, another aspect, for in the seven
verses the whole plan of salvation is laid down. The man going down to
A wealthy Christian lady was. one day passing along a street when she saw a little ragged, shoeless boy gazing wistfully into a boot shop window. Being very much struck with the boy, she went up to him, and asked him why it was he looked so wistfully at the shop window, and he said: “Please, mum, I was just praying that God would send me some boots.” So the lady took the boy into the shop, and got some water, knelt down and washed the boy’s feet. Then she sent for some stockings, put these on the boy’s feet, and bought him a pair of boots. Then the boy, amazed at what had been done, looked up into the kind woman’s face, and said “Please, ma’am, are you Christ’s wife?”
* * *
Isaiah 9: 1-7. Golden Text. Isaiah 9: 6.
1. The Dawn (vv. 1-5). 2. The Deliverer (vv. 6, 7).
The previous chapter (Isa. 8.)
closes on the note of deepest sadness as it depicts the darkness to fall upon
“Ever since the times of the judges,
all these lands had been exposed, on account of the countries that joined them,
to corruption from Gentile influence, and subjugation by heathen foes. The
northern tribes ... suffered the most in the almost incessant war between
From what follows it would appear that verse
2 has a wider
application and includes all
It is related in the annals of the
* * *
Isaiah 37: 8-20, 33-38. Golden Text. Psalm 46: 1.
1. The Proud Threat of Rabshakeh (vv. 8-13). 2. The Prayer of Hezekiah (vv. 14-20). 3. The Promise of the Lord (vv. 33-38).
Our lesson commences at the point in
the chapter where we read that Rabshakeh, who on behalf of Sennacherib, king of
Assyria, had come against
Having to retire Rabshakeh sends a
letter to Hezekiah with the threat of future invasion, declaring that it is
folly on the part of Hezekiah, to think that his God is able to deliver him.
He enumerates what the Assyrians had already accomplished, and declares
that the same fate would overtake
Hezekiah, having received the letter, went up to the house of
the Lord, where he spread it out before God and prayed over it. He was a man who could take his difficulties
to God, for “he trusted in the Lord God of
Many years ago, said a pastor, when in my country charge, fatigued with the day’s work, I returned one afternoon from a funeral. After a long ride I neared my stable door and felt a strange prompting to visit a poor widow who, with her invalid daughter, lived in a lonely cottage in an outlying part of the parish. My natural reluctance to make another visit was overcome by a feeling which I could not resist, and I turned my horse’s head towards the cottage. I was thinking only of the widow’s spiritual needs; but when I reached her little house I was struck with its look of unwonted bareness and poverty. After putting a little money into her hand, I began to enquire into their circumstances, and found that their supplies had been utterly exhausted since the night before. I asked them what they had done. “I just spread it out before the Lord!” “Did you tell your case to any friend?” “Oh no, sir; nobody knew but Himself and me! I knew He wouldn’t forget, but I did not know how He would help me, until I saw you come riding over the hill, and then I said, ‘There’s the Lord’s answer.’”
* * *
Jonah 3.; 4. Golden Text. Jonah 4: 10, 11.
The Renewed Commission. Chap. 3: 1.
The Declaration to
After Jonah’s disobedience to God, discipline, and
deliverance, his commission was renewed to go to
But tragic to relate the prophet was displeased. o our amazement the messenger had no joy that his mission was realised. Why was this? Simply because of his Jewish prejudice to the Gentile nations, and his failure to rise to God’s purpose which was that His “way be known upon earth” and His “saving health (salvation) among all nations” (Psalm 67: 2). God “prepared a gourd,” “a worm” and “a vehement east wind,” that Jonah’s heart might be prepared for His instruction that He is no respecter of persons and is not willing that any should perish.
In the neighbourhood of
* * *
Matthew 3: 1-12. Golden Text. Isaiah 40: 3.
1. The Prophet John (v. 1). 2. The Proclamation of the Kingdom (vv. 2-10). 3. The Proclamation of the King (vv. 11, 12).
The appearance of John was the fulfilment of prophecy. For hundreds of years Isa. 40: 3 had lain dormant, but now it sprang into life. So with all of God’s prophetic Word. Not a word shall fall; all will come to pass. “Predictive prophecy is the foremost proof to which the Word of God appeals on its own behalf” (Pierson).
John was not a common man; he was an extraordinary man - a great man. “There hath not arisen a greater” (Matt. 11: 11). Kings live in cities and palaces, but John lived in the wilderness, kings wear purple robes, but John wore a rough garment of camel’s hair girded with a leather girdle. Kings fare sumptuously, but John dined simply on locusts and wild honey. Yet he was greater than a king. He was a prophet; yea, more than a prophet. He was the herald of the King of Kings. Not only was he the herald of the great King, but a hero on behalf of the King. Unique were the circumstances attending his birth, life, and death. He was not only great because of his commission, but also because of his consecration. He was fearless and faithful even unto death.
For several hundred years no prophet had arisen, and then suddenly appeared the divinely appointed herald proclaiming the Kingdom in the words, “Repent ye, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
John’s message here was sevenfold. 1. The proclamation of the need of repentance as essential to
entrance into the kingdom. Those
so repenting and confessing their sins were baptised in
Then John proclaims the coming of the King, the Mighty One, before Whom he must decrease, and the consummation of His ministry the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the ultimate gathering of His wheat into His garner. A second time in these few verses do we read the dread word “fire,” the [eternal] doom of the lifeless “chaff,”* who have never been born again by the Spirit from above. Thus did John proclaim the King and the Kingdom fearless and faithful even unto death.
Outside a church in
John 1: 1-5, 14, 17. Luke 2: 1-20. Golden Text. Heb. 1: 1-2a.
John 1: 1-5. The Revelation. 1. The Logos
(Word). 2. The Life. 3. The Light. Luke 2: 1-20. The Incarnation. 1. The Son of
These are majestic words introducing us to the Saviour in all
the glory of His Deity. Here we have Him
displayed as the One who inhabiteth Eternity, the great and mighty Creator by
whom all things were made. He who is Life, and Light. He who said, “Let there be light” and light was. He, by whose divine fiat, worlds were brought
into being and the planets hurled into space to perform their appointed orbit. He who is the Creator of the
world and of us. This is the One, majestic in His Deity, and Holiness, and Righteousness,
the Mighty God who came into this world of darkness and sin, the Light of Life,
shining in all His Glory and fullness seeking to illumine the darkened hearts
and minds of the dwellers upon earth sitting in the shadow of death. That marvellous condescension and coming is
described in our second lesson, a story of wondrous beauty,
that never grows old, shining in all its fadeless lustre. We all know the familiar story of the going up
of Joseph and Mary from
This glorious manifestation of God was heralded by an angel, who
declared to the shepherds on
Oh that souls would be like the shepherds! When they heard the glad tidings “they came with haste” (v.16) to the Saviour.
No unbelief, no incredulity, no laggard steps - they hastened! From the darkness they hastened to the Light of Life. Ah! if only souls would bow before and embrace the Christ what life and love, joy and peace they would find in Him. Hasten the children to Him! Even a child of five years of age can receive Him as Saviour, be saved, and know it.
I was showing a five year old boy the other Sunday afternoon some reproductions of Mr. William Hole’s pictures of the Life of Christ (says the Rev. Robert E. Speer) and when we came to the picture of the raising of the dead son of the widow of Nain, the little fellow stopped and laid his hands on the page. “Yes,” he said, “I can understand that, Jesus had the life. He had all the life inside Himself.”
* * *
Matt. 21: 33-46. Golden Text. Jas. 1: 22a.
1. The Parable of the Vineyard. 2. The Perversion of the Pharisees.
This parable was uttered by Christ in
answer to the chief priests and elders of the people who questioned His
authority. Most probably our Lord took
as the basis of His parable the details furnished in the parable of Isaiah 5: 1-7. The parable pictures God’s dealings with
The parable is also a prophecy for therein our Lord foretold
His rejection and death at the hands of
[* NOTE. The ‘and’ here is a disjunction; it separates Messiah’s Millennial kingdom upon this earth (Rev. 20: 4), from His Eternal Kingdom in “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21: 1), after this earth is destroyed by fire, (2 Pet. 3: 10).]
All who fall on the Stone are broken, and blessed it is to all who thus fall, for the brokenness produced is that of heart and spirit, allowing the life of God to flow in. But the unbroken in heart, the Christ rejectors, and rebellious kingdoms upon whom the Stone shall fall shall be ground to powder.
The Pharisees “perceived that He spake of them” yet they set their faces against Him and sealed their doom.
Away up in a lonely
* * *
Acts 26: 4, 5; 7: 54; 8: 3. Golden Text. Phil. 3: 7.
Acts 7: 54. 1. The First Martyr. Acts 8: 1-3. 1. The Future Messenger.
We now turn to consider one of the greatest figures of the New
Testament. The study of this character brings
before us the profound truth that no life is outside the knowledge of God. By His sovereign will He calls
and chooses the vessels He will use for the out-pouring of His grace, and to
the praise of His glory. Whether it be Hudson Taylor for
Paul was born at a famous seat of learning,
Dr. Pullan says: “The future Apostle was therefore born a member of the most religious race in the world, spoke the language of the most cultivated race in the world, and lived under the most masterly and fully organised government. All these three influences left their mark upon a soul which was always impressible towards everything great and noble.” Even his persecution of the Christians was the outcome of his zeal for God. That this was mistaken zeal we know, and needed the illumination which God granted.
Paul was a man of splendid capacity, strong of will and concentration of purpose. Thoroughness and devotion characterised his life. What he lacked was the life in Christ, and the need was for his fine qualities to pass through the divine mould in order to be of service for God. But the unsleeping eye of the Lord was upon him and through His wondrous grace Paul was born again and became “a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the Master’s use and prepared unto every good work.” (2 Tim. 2: 21).
God often chooses the humblest instruments. Moses was the son of a poor Levite; Gideon was a farm servant; David was a shepherd boy; Amos was a herdsman; the apostles were obscure and unlearned; Luther was a miner’s son; Melancthon, the great reformer, was an armourer; Carey, who planned the translation of the Bible into the language of the millions of India, was a shoemaker; Morrison, who did the same for the Chinese, was a lastmaker;* Adam Clarke was the son of Irish cottars; John Foster was a weaver; and Jay, of Bath, was a herdsman. This calling and choosing continues to-day, in the fulfilment of God’s plan and purpose.
[* i.e., One who makes moulds of the foot on which boots and shoes are made or repaired.]
* * *
Acts 9: 1-18. Golden Text. 2 Cor. 4: 6.
Acts 9: 1-18. 1. The Persecution. 2. The Revelation. 3. The Conversion. 4. The Restoration. 5. The Unction.
The chapter opens by relating Paul’s persecution of the Church. His determination was to stamp out the very name of Jesus. He was a man of zeal, purpose and definiteness requiring great conviction to turn a man of his stamp of character to belief in Christ. To him Jesus was only a man turning his nation away from the oracles of God received and the ceremonies they had so long performed. But God had chosen Saul for a great purpose and his career of persecuting the Church was to be changed into suffering with the Church. Paul would have scorned the idea of being a follower of Jesus of Nazareth had anyone suggested it to him. He would have regarded it as an imputation upon his character and zeal for God. How wonderful then the change! The revolution was effected by a revelation. The Lord revealed Himself in all His glory, a glory that outshone the splendour of the noonday eastern sun. The glory of God is more than flesh and blood can bear and the whole party fell upon their faces to the ground. And Paul heard the voice of Jesus. Like Isaiah of old that vision and voice showed him himself. Paul was broken down before the Lord. That vision and Saul’s humble, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?” changed the whole current of his life. The raging antagonist of Christ was transformed into the radiant advocate for Christ. From henceforth it was no longer Saul the persecutor, but Paul the passionate servant and soul-winner for Christ.
The story then relates his being led to
Three days Paul was shut in with the Lord, and then Ananias was sent to restore his eyesight. That Paul was notorious is seen from the protest of Ananias, but God revealed that this man was His called and chosen vessel. And what a vessel! Through him God has poured out the riches of His grace to the world. He was the chosen messenger to the Gentiles, who was brought through the depths of suffering, and like the alabaster box of ointment he was broken that through him might flow to the world, the life, the fulness and the fragrance of Christ. What words can describe the passion of his life, the consecration of his life, and the issues of his life unto God and the world!
A high caste Brahmin, who happened to be in Calcutta on
business, was returning one evening to his lodgings when he was attracted by
the sound of singing, and listening near the door he for the first time heard
the Gospel from the lips of a native preacher belonging to the Serampore
Mission. He was at once arrested by what
he heard, and was led to accompany the preacher to the
* * *
Acts 11: 19-30; 12: 25; 13: 4. Golden Text. 1 Cor. 15: 10.
Acts 11: 19-30. 1. The Triumph of the Gospel at
The Christians who had been scattered through persecution were
used by God to sow the good seed and at
The church at Jerusalem, hearing of the work of God at
Antioch, sent Barnabas to view this fruitful field, who on seeing the result of
God’s hand was filled with gladness and rejoicing. After ministering to the people with blessed
results and finding the work too, great for him Barnabas went to
After the year’s stay in Antioch Barnabas and Paul went to
There was an apprentice in
* * *
1 Kings 6: 1-14. Golden Text. Psa. 84: 1.
1. The Pattern of the
Prophecy is history foretold. The unfolding of God’s Word is the historic record of the promise to Israel, that they should enjoy peace and quietness in the land of Canaan, fulfilled under the reign of the “man of rest” (1 Chron. 22: 9), king Solomon, who was appointed to build God’s Temple, the centre of the nation.
God’s purpose for
According to the pattern given to David by God
Solomon built the
Unique was the progress of this building (see v. 7). All was in readiness to fit into its place, and this magnificent structure, the habitation of the glory of God, silently rose to completion. The truth of this historic account is amply demonstrated by the excavations at the site of the temple when was revealed the original sanctuary wall of Solomon. “There, some 80 ft. below the present surface, the explorers came across the remains of a wall built of massive stones, most magnificently wrought, put together without mortar or cement, and the joints so beautifully made that a sheet of paper would not pass between, whilst the bottom course is socketed to a nicety into the solid rock.” Scripture is continually being confirmed.
Encouraging Solomon to finish his task God confirmed
the promise given to his father David (2 Sam. 7.)
of His Presence, Protection and Provision in the midst of
Solomon’s temple also points us to another temple which in our day is silently going forward to completion. To redeemed souls the Apostle Peter declares, “Ye also as living stones are built up a spiritual house” (1. Pet. 2: 5), and of this house we read in Eph. 2: 21, 22, “In whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth unto a holy temple in the Lord: in whom ye also are builded together for a habitation of God through the Spirit.” Only those who have peace with God through the “Man of Rest,” the living stones possessing the life of God, and fashioned by Him, are silently being fitted into place in His Temple for this holy purpose, but the rejectors of God’s redemption have no part or lot in this holy house, which through eternal ages will display “the manifold wisdom of God.” This Temple will soon be completed, for the sand in the glass of this dispensation is fast running through, and to obtain this position of eternal honour God's gift of eternal life must be accepted now.
Some time ago an old man gave his heart to Jesus and became a Christian. Soon after this he began to think how he could make himself useful, and be doing good. He had a great many friends who were very wicked men. He was very anxious that these should become Christians too. He made out a list of the names of his old associates. When he had finished this list and counted it over, he found that it contained one hundred and sixteen names. Some of these were infidels, some were drunkards, and some were among the worst men in the town where he lived. He began to pray for these people. He talked to them when he had an opportunity, .and gave them tracts and good books to read. Some refused to listen to him, and others made fun of him; but still he went on praying and working for them, and trying to do them good. And what was the result? Why, within two years from the time when that man became a Christian, one hundred of the persons whose names were on his list had become Christians too, living stones for the temple of God.
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1. Kings 8: 1-14. Golden Text. 1 Kings 8: 11b.
1. The Completion of the
In the month of the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23: 33-44)
the time of
Solomon’s task of building the habitation of the
glory of God was completed, and he assembled the elders and heads of the tribes
Two acts set this building apart as peculiarly
belonging to God. One was the bringing
of the ark, which was placed in the holy of holies of the Tabernacle, and the
carrying it into the holy place of the
The other act was that of God. The “glory of Jehovah” filled the house. God’s manifested Presence was His token of acceptance and the fulfilment of His promise. “The words ‘Khebod Jehovah’ (the glory of Jehovah) in the Hebrew scriptures, always mean the glory of the personal presence of Jehovah; the glory surrounding and attendant on the visible manifestations of Jehovah on earth” (David Baron). This was the
manifest presence of God in their midst,
Solomon’s dedicatory prayer, breathing adoration and
supplication is a fruitful source of study, but to one passage only can we draw
attention. In his prayer Solomon asks
the question, “Will God in very deed dwell with men on the earth?” (2 Chron. 6: 18; 1 Kings 8: 27). The New Testament revelation is the answer;
God “dwelt among us” (John
1: 14), the “Word of Life” who was “seen,” “looked upon”
(scrutinized), and “handled” (1. John 1: 1). But, greater still, and that which Solomon
never conceived, God not only dwelt with men, but God dwells in
men. “I in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be made
perfect in one” (John 17: 23). Oh,
the glory of the [obedient] child of God! - indwelt by God Himself. To the believer the Father declares this
radiant word, “Know ye not that ye are the
This is the end of all Sunday-school teaching - every child a temple of the living God through the reception of God the Saviour.
One summer day there strolled into a little Church in a European village a young nobleman. Loitering along the aisle his attention was arrested by a painting representing Christ into every lineament of whose face the Christian artist had painted Love. As the nobleman saw the pierced hands, the bleeding brow, and wounded side; as he slowly scanned the couplet,
“All this I did for thee,
What hast thou done for Me?”
a new revelation of the claim of Jesus Christ upon
every life upon which His grace had been outpoured flashed upon him. Hour after hour passed as he sat intently
gazing upon the face of the Suffering One. As the day waxed apace, and the lingering rays
of sunlight shot aslant aisle and pew, they fell upon the bowed form of
Zinzendorf, weeping and sobbing out his devotion to the Christ Who had not only
saved his soul, but conquered his heart. Out from that little Church he went forth to
do a mighty life-work, which has circled the earth with the missions of the
Moravian people who have been used to gather precious living stones for the
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1 Kings 12: 12 - 13: 3. Golden Text. Luke 4: 18b.
1. The Contention with
Rehoboarn (vv. 12-14). 2. The
Our lesson introduces us to the Divided Kingdom Period
of Israel’s history. The zenith of the nation’s
progress was reached under Solomon, who, failing to press on unto the end,
built a high place for Chemosh the abomination of Moab (1 Kings 11.), and incurred the displeasure of God, who declared
He would rend the kingdom from him and give it to another.
After Solomon’s death Rehoboarn reigned
in his stead, and
Jeroboam, refusing to trust God Whom he knew had
granted him his favoured position (1 Kings 11: 29-32),
thought it expedient to devise a scheme whereby these ten tribes should not go
up to Jerusalem to the yearly feasts appointed by God (Deut.
16: 16), in order that they might not adhere again to the house of
David. He therefore made two calves of
gold and exclaimed, “Behold thy gods, 0
The dramatic story (1 Kings 13.) of the appearance of the man of God who cried against the altar of Jeroboam reveals God’s wondrous grace in warning him against his downward course. But the warning was spurned and Jeroboam continued in his evil ways, bringing upon him the condemnation of God who protested that he had done evil above all that were before him (1 Kings 14: 9). God “smote all the house of Jeroboam” (1 Kings 15: 29), and the name of Jeroboam was held up as the exemplification of evil to those who followed after. The lessons are obvious. There must be the cleansing from all sin; the shattering of all idols; the walk with God in truth and holiness and the refusal to give expediency a place in the life.
“Is it right to sell margarine for butter?” said an excited youth, as he burst into my vestry one day, relates Dr. F. B. Meyer. “No,” said I, “of course not. There is no harm in selling margarine as such, but it is wrong to pass it off on an innocent customer as butter.”
“But my governor says I must, or he’ll sack me.” “Well,” said I, “as a Christian you have no option; you must keep a clear conscience.” So he went back, refused to sin against his conscience, and was dismissed. He was out for a week, during which money came to him from different sources sufficient for his need and that of his family who depended on him, and then he obtained a better situation than that he had sacrificed.
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1 Kings 18: 17-39. Golden Text. 1 Kings 18: 21.
1. The Protest of Ahab (vv. 17). 2. The Proposal of Elijah (vv. 18, 19). 3. The Preparation for the Sacrifices (vv. 20-35). 4. The Prayer of Elijah (vv. 36, 37). 5. The Power of God Manifested (v. 38).
This is one of the most
thrilling incidents of Old Testament story. On the one side we have one solitary man, and
on the other the thousands of
The lesson commences at the point where Ahab and
Elijah meet and Ahab protests to the prophet, “Art thou
he that troubleth
“Fire was the element over which Baal was supposed to preside,” and Elijah laying down the challenge of the sacrifices affirmed that the God answering - by fire would prove himself the true God. The people accepting the challenge and condition of proof prepared the sacrifice and called on the name of Baal, saying, “0 Baal, hear us.” In vain did they invoke their god from morning till noon, and from noon till evening with piercing cries and frantic leaping on their altar, cutting themselves with knives and mingling their blood with the sacrifice. There was no answer; no voice and no fire. The prophet with ironical remarks exposed their folly.
At last Elijah called them near to him. Repairing God’s altar with twelve stones, he prepared the bullock and called upon them to fill four barrels of water and pour it over the sacrifice and into the trench round the altar. The sacrifice was drenched and the trench filled.
Elijah prayed; the fire of Jehovah came down and “consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood, and the stones,
and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.”
A young man in
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Acts 8: 26-40. Golden Text. Rev. 15: 4b.
1. Fellowship with the Spirit (v. 26). 2. Faithfulness to the Spirit (vv. 27-29). 3. Fearlessness in the Spirit (vv. 30-35). 4. Fruitfulness through the Spirit (vv. 36-40).
God loves the whole world and His love overleaps all
barriers and prejudices of men. The Jews
arrogated to themselves God’s favour, but God has manifested for ever His great
love and His desire that all men should turn to Him and live. In this story we see God’s purpose in action
under the controlling power of the Holy Spirit. Philip, a man full of the Holy Spirit, was
commanded by the Spirit to go to
Philip, at the call of the [Holy] Spirit, left the place of fruitfulness to go to one soul, and through his obedience, a heathen became a child of God, and went on into untouched regions a rejoicing messenger of the Lord. Not only is there exhibited in this story the love of God reaching out to the Gentiles, but also we have presented the believing heart in fellowship with the [Holy] Spirit which promptly obeys His voice and leaves the issues with Him.
A prominent clergyman in
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Amos 4: 4-13; 6: 1-6. Golden Text. Amos 5: 14.
1. The Divine Denunciation (vv. 4-11). 2. The Divine Lamentation (4: 6, 8-11). 3. The Divine Intimation (4: 12-13). 4. The Declaration of judgment (5: 1-6).
The Book of Amos is the book
of national accountability. The
denunciations of God fell upon
I remember a young man in
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Isa. 19: 23-25; Matt. 28: 16-20; John 10: 1-18. Golden Text. John 10: 16.
Isa. 19: 23-25. The Consummation. Matt. 28: 6-20. The Commission. John 10: 18. The Sympathetic Shepherd (vv. 1-8). 2. The Succouring Shepherd (vv. 9-10). 3. The Sacrificing Shepherd (vv. 12-18).
Christ did not call Himself the Good Carpenter. Men seeking to recognise Him only on the level
of humanity speak of Him as the Carpenter, but Christ never assumed that title.
Those who know Him merely as the
Carpenter have never been embraced in the blessing of the truth which declares
Him to be the Good Shepherd. Such a figure as the Carpenter is too impersonal
for God. The throbbing heart of God towards mankind could never be
revealed in such a figure. His touch
with souls is living and personal, and the figure of Shepherd immediately
catches the imagination and speaks out God’s personal relationship to us. Running through Scripture as a golden thread
is this beautiful figure of the Shepherd. Christ is the Predicted Shepherd (Gen. 49: 24), the Sure Shepherd (Psa. 23.), the Restoring Shepherd (Psa. 80.), the Smitten Shepherd (Zech. 13: 7), the Great Shepherd (Heb. 13: 20), the Chief Shepherd (1 Pet. 5: 4), and the Comforting Shepherd (Rev. 7: 17 -“the Lamb ...
shepherdeth them”). The Gospel of John reveals God’s love for the
world, and the Lord intimates that not only has He sheep in
The Commission in Matt. 28. is that received by every born-again Sunday School teacher, and Christ depends upon us to declare His great sacrifice and salvation.
Isa. 19. is rather an unfortunate connection with this lesson. These passages refer to the time when the Lord sets up His millennial Kingdom and
reigns in righteousness. No
A traveller once asserted to a Syrian shepherd that the sheep knew the dress of their master, not his voice. The shepherd, on the other hand, maintained it was the voice they knew. To settle the dispute, he and the traveller exchanged dresses, and went among the sheep. The traveller in the shepherds’ dress called on the sheep and tried to lead them, but “they knew not his voice,” and never moved. On the other hand, they ran at once, at the call of their owner, though thus disguised.
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Mark 7: 24-30; Gal. 3: 26-28; Golden Text. Gal. 3: 28.
1. The Suppliant Syrophenician (vv. 24-28). 2. The Satisfying Saviour (vv. 29-30).
Striking is the picture here
of human need and Christ’s fulness. This
Gentile woman came in great distress pleading to Christ to deliver her daughter
from demon possession. Did our Lord’s
reply seem to be spurning the woman? It
may seem so on the surface, but His dealings are ever in wisdom and grace, and
His reply but stimulated her perseverance drawing her to Himself. In Matthew’s account (chap.
15.), we read she addressed Him as “Son of David,”
but His answer “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep
of the house of
The hand of faith confidently held up to Christ ever grasps the fulness which He is so ready to give. Touched by her act of trust in the Lord said, “O woman, great is thy faith” (Matt. 15: 28); “For this saying go thy way: the demon is gone out of thy daughter.” The faith that is unhindered by any circumstances and looks right off to Christ receives His sure reward. For all eternity the story of this woman’s faith shall abide.
Racial barriers have now vanished, as far as the Gospel is concerned, and all who receive God’s glad tidings unto the obedience of faith are made one in Christ Jesus.
A negro boy asked a missionary in
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Isa. 6. Golden Text. Isa. 6: 8.
1. The Vision (vv. 1-2). 2. The Voices (vv. 3-8). 3. The Messenger (v. 8). 4. The Message (vv. 9-13).
The call of Isaiah is perhaps the most wonderful in the Bible. Before sending him out as His messenger or making him the vehicle of those glorious Messianic prophecies God gave him a vision of Himself. Vocation is dependent on vision. The realisation of the glory of our spiritual vocation, the intensity and fulness are commensurate with our vision. Lifted up in the spirit Isaiah beheld the glory of God. The vision of the holiness of God and the voices declaring that holiness so overwhelmed him that stricken with the awful sense of his sin, and feeling that he was a lost soul for ever Isaiah cried out in agony, “Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips.” The vision of the holiness of God ever breaks us down before His face. Sin contrasted with holiness ever reveals the terrible sinfulness of sin. A superficial view of sin is related to a superficial conception of the holiness of God. To have a true realisation of God’s holiness is to feel ourselves lost and undone, and to excite the anguish of self-condemnation. “The holiness of God to the sinner is a conuming fire, and the infinite distance between the Creator and the creature is sufficient of itself to produce a prostrating effect, which even the seraphim could not resist without veiling their faces.” Seeing the distress of the prophet one of the seraphim flew to him with a live coal from off the altar and touching with it his lips assured him of the forgiveness of his sin.
After Isaiah’s sin had been cancelled the object of this vision was made apparent. God called to him, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us,” and to His voice Isaiah made prompt and glad response. “Here am I, send me.” Blessed is the one who called of God, at all costs and undaunted by all consequences, responds with quick obedience. There is no greater honour to be possessed on this earth than that of being a mesesnger of God. Constituted God’s messenger he then was commissioned with God’s message. And what was the message? One that we do not care to deliver. Isaiah was sent with a message of judgment, a message of hardening, to disobedient, sinful Israel. It is neither easy nor pleasant to convey such a message, but the first requisite of any messenger of God is obedience. Because of his sympathy to his nation, Isaiah sighed, although obedient, and cried, “Lord, how long?” The answer given is that his service of hardening is to continue, until the cities were desolate and the inhabitants sent into exile. Such was Isaiah’s message which he faithfully delivered, and if God gives us a message against sin we must deliver it at all costs. But the gloomy message was lightened by the promise to Isaiah that although the mass of the people were doomed to destruction because of their sin, yet a remnant would return, and be converted and inherit the glorious future.
Nearly sixty years ago Richard Weaver was preaching
in the Alhambra Circus, in