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The center of the Traditional Anglican Communion; adhering to the Holy Bible (KJV) in all matters of Faith and Doctrine, a strict reliance on the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion, The two Sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion, the Two Creeds, and the Homilies and formularies of the Reformation Church of England.

Verse of the Day

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Devotion on The Book of Job (Chapter Forty-One) for Thursday after the Second Sunday in Lent - 28 February 2013, Anno Domini



The Second Sunday in Lent.
The Collect.


A
LMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

1 Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? 2 Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? 3 Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee? 4 Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? 5 Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? 6 Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? 7 Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears? 8 Lay thine hand upon him, remember the battle, do no more. 9 Behold, the hope of him is in vain: shall not one be cast down even at the sight of him? 10 None is so fierce that dare stir him up: who then is able to stand before me? 
11 Who hath prevented me, that I should repay him? whatsoever is under the whole heaven is mine. 12 I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely proportion. 13 Who can discover the face of his garment? or who can come to him with his double bridle? 14 Who can open the doors of his face? his teeth are terrible round about. 15 His scales are his pride, shut up together as with a close seal. 16 One is so near to another, that no air can come between them. 17 They are joined one to another, they stick together, that they cannot be sundered. 18 By his neesings a light doth shine, and his eyes are like the eyelids of the morning. 19 Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. 20 Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. 21 His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. 22 In his neck remaineth strength, and sorrow is turned into joy before him. 23 The flakes of his flesh are joined together: they are firm in themselves; they cannot be moved. 24 His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone. 25 When he raiseth up himself, the mighty are afraid: by reason of breakings they purify themselves. 26 The sword of him that layeth at him cannot hold: the spear, the dart, nor the habergeon. 27 He esteemeth iron as straw, and brass as rotten wood. 28 The arrow cannot make him flee: slingstones are turned with him into stubble. 29 Darts are counted as stubble: he laugheth at the shaking of a spear. 30 Sharp stones are under him: he spreadeth sharp pointed things upon the mire. 31 He maketh the deep to boil like a pot: he maketh the sea like a pot of ointment. 32 He maketh a path to shine after him; one would think the deep to be hoary. 33 Upon earth there is not his like, who is made without fear. 34 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride. (Job 41:1-34)

            The creature described in today's chapter is steeped in mystery. No commentator I have read has been able to define, precisely, what Leviathan is. I would hope to find some commonality between this beast and some other whose description and characteristics matched perfectly with the creature described, but I have searched in vain. I will confess, at the outset, that my comments are purely conjectural as to the exact identity of the creature, but the picturesque descriptions of its power and threat to man are food enough to feed us fully in this chapter. I will also note that it is unusual to have a full chapter devoted to such a description that, for us today, is unfathomable. The overriding consideration in this chapter is this: There are spiritual, as well as physical, monsters that man cannot contest. Only God can defeat Satan, and only God can defeat such a creature as Leviathan. Are the two related? We cannot be certain, but we will attempt to speculate, biblically, on this creature and the meaning God is conveying in describing it.
            First of all, we find that this beast is physically unapproachable by man. Canst thou draw out leviathan with an hook? or his tongue with a cord which thou lettest down? 2 Canst thou put an hook into his nose? or bore his jaw through with a thorn? 3 Will he make many supplications unto thee? will he speak soft words unto thee? 4 Will he make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant for ever? 5 Wilt thou play with him as with a bird? or wilt thou bind him for thy maidens? 6 Shall the companions make a banquet of him? shall they part him among the merchants? 7 Canst thou fill his skin with barbed irons? or his head with fish spears?
Whatever the creature is, is cannot be subjugated by man. Various commentators describe this creature as a whale, a crocodile, or a dinosaur. But the descriptions do not suitably match, in toto, any of these. Could it be that God is relating the descriptions of several beasts and relegating them to one nature of threat to man? I do not believe so though many better Bible scholars than I  am have so concluded. The great paradox to me is the fact that there are no physical creatures, either then or now, that cannot be subjugated by man.
            Secondly, the beasts described has an indomitable and unyielding spirit towards man – only God Himself can subdue Leviathan.  It may be that God is telling us that the most powerful creatures in all of Creation are still creatures of His own making and subject only to Him.  A reference is made to God's handling of Leviathan is found in Isaiah: In that day the LORD with his sore and great and strong sword shall punish leviathan the piercing serpent, even leviathan that crooked serpent; and he shall slay the dragon that is in the sea (Isaiah 27:1)
Please think deeply with me about this terrible monster. He is invincible and invulnerable to every weapon devised against him by man. Moreover, he is a `piercing' serpent. His dwelling place is in the sea. 19 Out of his mouth go burning lamps, and sparks of fire leap out. 20 Out of his nostrils goeth smoke, as out of a seething pot or caldron. 21 His breath kindleth coals, and a flame goeth out of his mouth. He is a serpent that literally breathes fire. Do we have such physical dragons? This monster can even present a handsome appearance: 12 I will not conceal his parts, nor his power, nor his comely (handsome)  proportion. His heart is hard as stone: 24 His heart is as firm as a stone; yea, as hard as a piece of the nether millstone. He is lifted up with pride: 34 He beholdeth all high things: he is a king over all the children of pride. What animal of our knowledge does this describe? It is not a crocodile or a whale; an elephant or a rhinoceros…..what kind IS it? He is able to cause the sea to boil at his thrashing. He leaves a path of luminosity (false light) in his wake.
Allow me simply to suggests some parallels with Satan though I am not sure that this dragon refers to that same Red Dragon of Revelations. And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. (Rev 12:3) Only God can master this creature of His: And the great dragon was cast out, that old serpent, called the Devil, and Satan, which deceiveth the whole world: he was cast out into the earth (Rev 12:9) His abode is the sea which he causes to boil with heat. And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God (Rev 15:2) Is Satan not lifted up with pride, and was not this the cause of his fall? For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. (Isaiah 14:13-15)
            What is our defense against the great Red Dragon? Only God! Christ conquered Satan when He died upon the cross for our sins, and rose on the third day.
            I do not presume to know what this creature described in Job 41 truly is other than to say that it is a monster that only God can conquer. If is a crocodile, it does not fully fit the description. It may not be the devil, but he certainly comes nearer the description than any others. This fire-breathing serpent certainly sounds like the being described in Ephesians 6:16 - Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation.
            Enough speculation! Aristotle said, and for once he was correct, "the whole is greater than the sum of all of the parts ." God is greater than His Creation. He is greater than Job, and He is greater than you and me. He is able to subdue the monsters of our nightmares as well as those of our awakening hour. Boasting is for fools and devils – depend upon God alone and He will gain the victory.
            Tomorrow, we will conclude our study in Job. Job has given evidence of groundless pride in these many chapters of his book. Pride, even in an otherwise good man, is a stain to the soul. It is a sin of the devil. It is something that God literally hates in us even if we are His elect. 16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: 17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood (beware abortionists), 18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief, 19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren. (Prov 6:16-19) When God looks at His chosen Child, He would far prefer to see the humility of Christ rather than the pride of Satan.
God has taken Job in hand to open his eyes to his false pride and false righteousness. He has embarrassed a man He loves in order that He might be well. He does the same to you and me, friend. Be quick to AGREE with God in all things and never presume to discredit any of His righteous features.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Devotion on The Book of Job (Chapter Forty) for Wednesday after the Second Sunday in Lent - 27 February 2013, Anno Domini



The Second Sunday in Lent.
The Collect.


A
LMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

1 Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, 2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. 3 Then Job answered the LORD, and said, 4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. 5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further. 6 Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. 8 Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? 9 Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? 10 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. 11 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. 12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. 13 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. 14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee. 15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. 16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. 17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. 18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. 19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. 20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. 21 He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. 22 The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. 23 Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. 24 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares.   (Job 40:1-24)
            It may appear to the casual observer that all of the misery of this account of Job is on Job's part; however, what of His Lord who has watched Job fall pitifully short in his arguments with Satan, and Satan's vicegerents, after being a close friend of God? God has chosen His choicest gladiator to go against Satan, but Job has taken the field with a broken Sword. He has acknowledged the greatness of God and His Power, but he has also alluded to his own righteousness implying that God is not just. He was correct in the first instant, but miserably amiss in the second. Job and his friends have been claiming the high truths of God without acknowledging His perfect righteousness and justice. In fact, they have denied it. God has now, in the last two chapters, levied a barrage of unanswerable questions from the Coastal Batteries of Heaven. The four men remain absolutely silent to these questions for they are not equipped to answer even ONE. They are beginning to feel as the fools which they are in making such claims against God. Isaiah describes the Being of God in God's own Words:  I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me: That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the LORD, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:5-6 ) Please note that there are NONE other gods. Allah is NOT God. The Being of God is defined in terms that transcend His Name – He is exclusive. He has an only Begotten Son. He has a Holy Spirit. He has a Holy Book called the Bible – not the Koran! If Allah lacks any of these, obviously Allah is not God – period! End of statement, end of argument!
            We see in the first two verses that God asks Job a direct question? It is not a question of one slip of the tongue of Job, but of Job's whole attitude and argument in previous chapters: Moreover the LORD answered Job, and said, 2 Shall he that contendeth with the Almighty instruct him? he that reproveth God, let him answer it. God has made Job and his three friends to appear as the fools that they are in trying to speak for God and even in demeaning His mercy, grace, justice, and righteousness. None of those questions asked in chapter 38-39 can be answered by any man.  So Job is thrown off-balance by such questions, but there is yet a glimmer of prideful presumption not confessed in his present response to God. Then Job answered the LORD, and said, 4 Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer thee? I will lay mine hand upon my mouth. 5 Once have I spoken; but I will not answer: yea, twice; but I will proceed no further. This answer falls short of a full repudiation of his former presumptiveness. Job is saying, "Look, Lord, I made a mistake and overstepped my bounds" and "I said SOME things that weren't quite consistent with your character." Job does realize how vile he has been. That is a starting point, but not the finish line. He is so over-awed by God's questions that he places his hand over his mouth. But silence is not the response God seeks when He speaks to us. He desires a broken and a contrite heart when we have presumed against His Divine Majesty. At a later, point; Job will come to a better and fuller answer to God in chapter 42:1-5. This is the response God attempts to evoke in the heart of Job now, but Job is short of a full realization of his need to repent.
            Then answered the LORD unto Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 7 Gird up thy loins now like a man: I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto me. A true man will recognize when he is in the wrong. God demands this of every man and woman. God is telling Job, "I want more than a puny acknowledgment that you were wrong, Job. I want a confession and the evidence of repentance. You do not disagree with the Almighty and simply say, `I was wrong.'" God answers, moreover, again from the Whirlwind. God always answers from a place of power – even from the flames of fire if need be. Wilt thou also disannul my judgment? wilt thou condemn me, that thou mayest be righteous? Mr. Job, you are a man conceived in sin, and God fashioned every detail of your person in the darkness of the womb; yet you presume to cancel out the character and nature of God in your foolish babblings? Do you, Mr. Job, have the temerity to claim a higher stake in righteousness than the Almighty? Does any man condemn God when he cannot even condemn another man? Have you ever disagreed with God? If so, you are saying that6 the judgment of God is less than your own. God will forgive your foolish piety if you will repent of it.
            Mr. Job, would like you like to join the Lord in the tornado-like whirlwind to see if your frail voice can be heard over the thunder? Hast thou an arm like God? or canst thou thunder with a voice like him? Can your strong and outstretched arm part the waters of the sea, Mr. Job, or command the fountains of the great deep to be broken up by the power of your word? Or, is that a function that only God can satisfy? Can you whisper in Eternity Past and have that whisper manifested as a thundering Voice in Eternity future? Maybe not? Then keep silence before Him and pay Him reverence due His sovereignty and Might.
            God issues a heavy challenge to Job: 10 Deck thyself now with majesty and excellency; and array thyself with glory and beauty. 11 Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath: and behold every one that is proud, and abase him. 12 Look on every one that is proud, and bring him low; and tread down the wicked in their place. 13 Hide them in the dust together; and bind their faces in secret. Can you claim a high royalty for your namesake; can you prove your perfection in all things…never a mistake, never a misstep? Can you paint the beauty of a morning sunrise, or the glorious solitude of the evening sunset? Can you wear the robes of the wind, and array yourself with the heavenly constellations? Maybe not? Can you cause your petty rage to be broadcasts across the expanse of space and time? Can you cause to fade in fear the contempt and pride of kings, rulers, and even brute beasts? Can you destroy, with a whisper, the wicked that hurt men, women, and small children? Can you cause the proud to be covered with the desert dust of time and cause there only memories to be by-words and not proud memories? Maybe not? Then heed the Voice of the Lord and dispute it not! If you were able to do those things, Mr. Job and Mr./Mrs. Reader, then God will grant you the claim of your own righteousness to salvation. 14 Then will I also confess unto thee that thine own right hand can save thee. But every reader of this devotion knows full well that he lacks the merit, the righteousness, the perfection to save himself and that he, therefore, needs to lay claim upon the righteousness of Christ in order to be saved.
            Now, the Lord God will describe some one of the beasts of His Creation which is beyond the power of man to subdue. I will not speculate on what this creature is except to say that its particular of its characteristics are shared by some creatures existent today: 15 Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. 16 Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. 17 He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together. 18 His bones are as strong pieces of brass; his bones are like bars of iron. 19 He is the chief of the ways of God: he that made him can make his sword to approach unto him. 20 Surely the mountains bring him forth food, where all the beasts of the field play. 21 He lieth under the shady trees, in the covert of the reed, and fens. 22 The shady trees cover him with their shadow; the willows of the brook compass him about. 23 Behold, he drinketh up a river, and hasteth not: he trusteth that he can draw up Jordan into his mouth. 24 He taketh it with his eyes: his nose pierceth through snares. The extinct dinosaur may answer to this description, but I do not know if the dinosaur was extant after the flood. This creature, in some respects is like a rhinoceros, or a crocodile, or a hippopotamus.  Many have speculated on the exact identity of this creature, but none have spoken with specific proof. So let us just conclude that this is a creature of incomparable strength and character among the beasts of the field.  God is stating the nature of the beast in order to draw a conclusion from Job in the next chapter. Of course, the exact nature is not necessary for us to completely fathom for this beast is far greater than the great guerrilla, the lion, the tiger, the grizzly bear, etc. none of which can man subdue much less create as God has done. The example of this creature puts Job, and you and me, in a better perspective to the power of God who made it. If you now feel small compared to God and His wisdom, we shall proceed tomorrow to chapter 41.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Sermon Notes - The Second Sunday in Lent - 24 February 2013, Anno Domini



The Second Sunday in Lent.
The Collect.


A
LMIGHTY God, who seest that we have no power of ourselves to help ourselves; Keep us both outwardly in our bodies, and inwardly in our souls; that we may be defended from all adversities which may happen to the body, and from all evil thoughts which may assault and hurt the soul; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

And due to the rubric, the Collect for the Day is followed by the Collect for Ash Wednesday, which is found on Page 124:

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.
One great acknowledgment that stands out in today's Collect for the 2nd Sunday in Lent is this: Since our father Adam partook of the ill-natured tree in the midst of the Garden, Man must still find himself constantly relying upon that OTHER Tree in the midst of the Garden at Eden which he rejected – the Tree of Life. Because of that rejection, we are full of sin and incapable of helping ourselves. We even return to, stop and listen to, and partake of the ill-fated fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It is only the Mercy and Grace offered by the Tree of Life that keeps us from constantly appealing to the serpent of the other tree. This Collect originates in the Gregorian Sacramentary. For a fuller study and brief meditation on the Collects, I recommend The Collects of Thomas Cranmer, by C. Frederick Barbee and Paul F.M. Zahl. (Erdmans, 1999)
21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. 23 But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. 24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. 28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.  (Matt 15:21-28)
            Jesus has just been confronted by the scribes and Pharisees (blind leaders of the blind) who have come to Him with a petty complaint involving hand-washing. These men ruled their charges by red-tape and the jot and tittle of the law, and not out of love. There is one cardinal principle is preaching that may be the most neglected, not only by the former Pharisees, but the contemporary ones as well. That principle is clearly elucidated in 1 Peter 5:2. Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but willingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind; 3. Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being ensamples to the flock. 4 And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away. (1 Peter 5:2-4) So Jesus, wearied of the harassment from the mean fellows, resorts to the far reaching coastline of Tyre and Sidon (Phoenicia on the Mediterranean) for a time of peace and quiet. There is also a certain woman in His thoughts that needs to see Him and is awaiting His arrival there. This dear soul has no idea that the Son of David will travel to her distant home, but the Son of David knows, and He comes.
            The beauty and comfort of God's providential care for us, even while we were yet strangers, knows no limits on time and distance.  Perhaps, ere you came to Christ, you, too, were a great distance away among a people of Godless character; yet, Christ was aware of your plight and His Holy Spirit, swift as a Dove, came to you and answered your great need. He knew you LONG before you knew Him – even while you were yet in your mother's womb where He MADE you! Such a wonderful visit of Christ the great Healer and Physician was beyond the realm of possibility in the imagination of the Syro-Phoenician woman. Yet, there was something in her heart that made her believe that God would provide. Already, she had more faith as a Gentile than the Jewish rulers had as the lost sheep of Israel. The reassuring thing about faith in God is this: We need not understand the ways and means of God's answering our prayers, but only to know that He certainly WILL! The ear of faith, to, is very keen to hear every whispered detail of the Way of the Lord's Coming whether it be on the road from Galilee, or from Jerusalem. The direction is not so important, but the fact that He will come after all. There is a parallel account of this event in the Gospel of St Mark 7:24-30.
            We look in upon Jesus immediately after His confrontation over hand-washing with the Pharisees: 21 Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. Please do not argue that Christ knew not whom He would meet at His destination for I will not believe it. Christ always knew whom He would meet and whom He would heal in every case. He knew a woman of Samaria would come to Jacob's Well at the noonday hour long before the woman experienced her thirst. So He waited there while the disciples went for bread. You may be the most incorrigible and egregious of sinners, judged so by infidel and Christian alike, but Christ may have already established a point in time when He will seek you out in a land far removed from the familiar people of God. This woman may not be an egregious sinner. In fact, I believe that she is a good and faithful mother to the treasure of her bosom, but she has not yet met Christ – and that meeting will make all the difference in her life. Now He is coming. The news is whispered about the villages and among travelers along the dusty roads. His fame has even reached the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, and the woman has heard with bated breath. HOPE is the dominant quality that informs her germinating faith in a Figure see has yet to meet. The Gospel of St Mark tells us that Jesus went into a house to rest near the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, but "could not be hid." (7:24)  No truer statement can be uttered about Jesus – He cannot be hidden from the searching eye, for all that seek Him shall fid Him. (Luke 11:9 et al) There is a Syro-Phoenican woman that is seeking, and she shall find Him at all costs. This is always the cause that brings us to Christ – NEED! Many need, but fail to satisfy that need in coming to Him.
            22 And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David. There are three important points to be made in this one statement: 1) The woman did not casually call out for help as if her need, or her expectation, was minor. She CRIED out because her NEED, motivated by a mother's love for a dear little girl, was GREAT! "my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil" . 2) She named no great need in her cry – only a request for mercy. If she has mercy from Christ, she has all else of her need. 3) She recognized Jesus as the Messiah. That is the meaning of her expression "O Lord, thou Son of David." She did not call Him `a' son of David, but the prophesied Son of David. When we go to Christ in prayer, do we fully realize He is? This woman KNEW before ever she met Christ. She knew out of NEED and FAITH. Perhaps feeling herself so much so unworthy as the publican who came with the Pharisee to the Temple that day and would not approach so near, she called from a distance unto Christ. Actually, our first call to Christ is always from a distance, for we call out of our bondage and need. It is just as the hymnist, William Sleeper, has written in the hymn we sang today:
Out of my bondage, sorrow, and night,

Jesus, I come, Jesus, I come;

Into Thy freedom, gladness, and light,

Jesus, I come to Thee;

Out of my sickness, into Thy health,

Out of my want and into Thy wealth,

Out of my sin and into Thyself,

Jesus, I come to Thee.

            23 But he answered her not a word. Was Jesus being unkind to this precious mother? Of course he was not! Jesus showed nothing but the deepest compassion for others in need. Jesus does not answer for two reasons: 1) He desires to allow the woman's faith to increase, by and by, through her persistence. If we pray ceaselessly and, yet, have not gotten an answer, do we cease to call upon the Lord? God would have us pray with persistence. As we pray continually, our eyes are opened more and more to the Mind of God – our prayers thereby become more and more in accord with His own Will to grant. Do you recall in our previous studies how those who are closest to Christ often prevent those who need Him most from coming? And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. Do we value our comfort and leisure so highly that we forbid others who have a great need from coming to the source of that comfort we have? Are we too cozy in our little buildings of stone walls and high spires? The salt that is not often shaken will harden so that it cannot be dispensed from the shaker.
            24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Every Word of Christ is with power yet this is one of those `BUTS' which deserve heeding. This woman is from the Canaanite race of Gentiles that the Jews despise. Christ is drawing out of a deep well, the refreshing waters of faith this woman has.  He does it not only for her own benefit, but for the benefit of his Jewish disciples to learn of compassion.  He is saying to the poor mother, "Look, I know you have a need, but I am not sent to any other than the lost sheep of Israel. If you become a child of the Promised Seed, you, too, shall be in the fold of Israel." The statement of Jesus is looked upon with particular interest by His disciples. Jesus is slowly drawing the woman closer to Himself, and to His Love-Brimmed Heart. 25 Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. Yes, we see that the Love of Jesus does draw her nearer, don't we? She finally is not afraid to worship the Savior of her soul. She asked for the deepest desire of her heart, and that desire derives from a love that is inexpressible for her daughter.
            Please note thoughtfully the kind and loving response of Jesus to the woman: 26 But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children's bread, and to cast it to dogs. At first glimpse, this may sound a bit harsh to such a loving mother, but it is laden with love. The word Jesus uses here to describe her relationship to the children of God (Israel) is not the term for the cursed and hated dog of the ghettos, but the Greek word,  kunarion,    pronounced `koo-nar'-ee-on', meaning `puppy' or `pet-dog.' The puppy dog is a pet and is fed by the children by secretly dropping crumbs of food down to them. Perhaps we, as children of God, fail too often to drop these crumbs of the Bread of Life down to those who are starving for love and nourishment. Jesus, from eternity past, has loved this woman and her little daughter; but He needs to show her the manner in which she must come to Him. 27 And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters' table. These words were evoked by Christ for the benefit of those standing nearby. He already knew these words were written in the red blood of love on the woman's heart for her daughter. Had she not needed a healing for her daughter, she may never have sought Christ out.
            28 Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. What has Jesus told the woman? He has told her (in other words): "Woman, you have known who I am. You have come seeking me out of a faith born of love. You have persisted in your prayers, so much so, that YOUR will is precisely the Will of God. It is by THAT latter Will that your faith has healed your daughter. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.  God is Light, and His Finger travels with Light Speed. There was no lingering spirit-possession of the daughter – not at all. She was healed that very hour (moment).
            So what valuable lessons have we learned from this most blessed mother of ancient Phoenicia?
1.     Love will call us into a higher place – even to a seeking after God.
2.     We must seek the Lord diligently even in places that are perceived unlikely such as the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
3.     We must call out in earnest to Christ not holding back.
4.     We must clearly state our need in prayer.
5.     We must be persistent in prayer even if we only hear silence at first from the Throne of God.
6.     We must not only petition, but listen for the Will of God to be
7.     We must worship God even while we are pleading our cause as did the distraught mother.
8.     We must give evidence of our Faith to both God and man.

            Have we exercised this example in prayer? Put it to the test. God is faithful always to answer if our wills are consistent with His Own.          

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Devotion on The Book of Job (Chapter Thirty-Nine) for Ember Saturday after the First Sunday in Lent - 23 February 2013, Anno Domini



The First Sunday in Lent.
The Collect.

O
 LORD who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

1 Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? 2 Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? 3 They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows. 4 Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them. 5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? 6 Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. 7 He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. 8 The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing. 9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? 10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? 11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? 12 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn? 13 Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? 14 Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, 15 And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. 16 She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear; 17 Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding. 18 What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider. 19 Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? 20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. 21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. 22 He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. 23 The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. 24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. 25 He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. 26 Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? 27 Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? 28 She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. 29 From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. 30 Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she.(Job 39:1-30)

            God continues to bombard Job and his fellows with questions that cannot be fathomed by man. The point is not to ridicule Job and his friends, but to awaken them to the mystery and might of the God by whom they are being addressed. All of these questions are not addressed to Job and his fellows alone, but to every person who seeks to know God – past, present, and future. If we think deeply on these questions of God, perhaps we will come away knowing ourselves better "as a many looking into a mirror – the mirror of God's Word." If we cannot know how infinitely great God is we cannot know how infinitely small we are.
            Beginning at Job 38:39, God begins to survey by question the characteristics of wildlife and living nature, and He continues this line in this chapter. (vers 1-12) God then changes the subject to include the mysteries of the remarkable ostrich. (vers 13-18). He then proceeds to the royal breed of creature – the horse. (vers 19-15) In conclusion, God reverts to the subject of fowl of the air. (vers 26-30).
            Knowest thou the time when the wild goats of the rock bring forth? or canst thou mark when the hinds do calve? Do you have a presence, Job, in the cleft of the rock, or on the lonely defile, where and when the wild goats conceive and bare young? Do you, Reader? Canst thou number the months that they fulfil? or knowest thou the time when they bring forth? 3 They bow themselves, they bring forth their young ones, they cast out their sorrows. 4 Their young ones are in good liking, they grow up with corn; they go forth, and return not unto them. 5 Who hath sent out the wild ass free? or who hath loosed the bands of the wild ass? 6 Whose house I have made the wilderness, and the barren land his dwellings. 7 He scorneth the multitude of the city, neither regardeth he the crying of the driver. The range of the mountains is his pasture, and he searcheth after every green thing. 9 Will the unicorn be willing to serve thee, or abide by thy crib? 10 Canst thou bind the unicorn with his band in the furrow? or will he harrow the valleys after thee? 11 Wilt thou trust him, because his strength is great? or wilt thou leave thy labour to him? 12 Wilt thou believe him, that he will bring home thy seed, and gather it into thy barn? Pick out just one question above and give an answer…. The question is not of the biological clock, but of the MOMENT of these events.  Who placed the wisdom of in the heart of the young hind to search for food the day it is born and to know its way from forage back to parents? Can man endow that beast with such innate wisdom, or is man the recipient of the same blessings as the hind? The hind does not find populated areas appealing. Perhaps we would be better advised to remain separate from the larger part of society as well. The hind, unlike man, cannot be made a slave by the driver. The only wisdom he has is that given by God in his inward parts. But man attempts to develop his own wisdom – and woefully fails in the attempt. What of the unicorn (perhaps, Hippodromes)? Can you place this strong creature in a holding crib? If you try, please let me know ahead of time…. Will you domesticate the unicorn to become your slave as a mule? I think not. The law of liberty is written in the hearts of these brute beasts. Man might take a simple lesson from them in freedom.
            13 Gavest thou the goodly wings unto the peacocks? or wings and feathers unto the ostrich? 14 Which leaveth her eggs in the earth, and warmeth them in dust, 15 And forgetteth that the foot may crush them, or that the wild beast may break them. 16 She is hardened against her young ones, as though they were not hers: her labour is in vain without fear; 17 Because God hath deprived her of wisdom, neither hath he imparted to her understanding. 18 What time she lifteth up herself on high, she scorneth the horse and his rider. Can you attire a creature with the beauty of the peacock (not referring to Anglo-Romans here) Are we more intelligent than the ostrich of very low intellect? She labors very little, yet accomplishes her life's purpose. She leaves her eggs, and her young, in the keeping of the Lord and worries not over them. Who taught her to be so? She does not care for her young (let many modern Americans) yet they survive under the Lord's care. She is deprived of the wisdom God has given higher creatures, yet, she survives well because God creates nothing for which He does not provide a way. Compared to the wisdom of God, we stand in no better stead than the ostrich. Even the ostrich can hold its head above the mounted rider, and run just as fast.
            19 Hast thou given the horse strength? hast thou clothed his neck with thunder? 20 Canst thou make him afraid as a grasshopper? the glory of his nostrils is terrible. 21 He paweth in the valley, and rejoiceth in his strength: he goeth on to meet the armed men. 22 He mocketh at fear, and is not affrighted; neither turneth he back from the sword. 23 The quiver rattleth against him, the glittering spear and the shield. 24 He swalloweth the ground with fierceness and rage: neither believeth he that it is the sound of the trumpet. 25 He saith among the trumpets, Ha, ha; and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting. What of the untarnished valor of the war horse? Have you the courage to run into the heat of battle without your own personal arms? The horse has a great spirit, given by God, which suits him for battle or travel. He is strong – so strong that we measure power in Horsepower. He is not easily shunned when his ears are perked for battle. He shuns both saber and cannonade. Though hundreds of swords are raised ahead, he charges on undaunted with his warrior mount. The war horse goes into battle with heated passion. The greater the threat of the battle line, the faster and more fiercely he charges into battle. Even the bugler's call to Retreat will not convince him to quit the battle field. He seeks the contest rather than shrinking from it. Perhaps we need Christians of the same caliber for our perilous times.
            26 Doth the hawk fly by thy wisdom, and stretch her wings toward the south? 27 Doth the eagle mount up at thy command, and make her nest on high? 28 She dwelleth and abideth on the rock, upon the crag of the rock, and the strong place. 29 From thence she seeketh the prey, and her eyes behold afar off. 30 Her young ones also suck up blood: and where the slain are, there is she. What beautiful and descriptive language here! True the wisdom of the hawk knows direction of flight to surprise her prey. Unless on the equator, the sun generally shines from the north. The hawk flies down-light so that her prey cannot distinguish her in the sun. Now, the eagle is mentioned – a very inspiring and wonderful creature of the heavens, indeed. If there is a sovereign of the skies, it would be the eagle! Who told the eagle to make her nest on the high places and the rock of the mountain? The eagle can see for many miles. Its vision is far superior to man. The great wings of the eagle enable it to fly above the storm. The wings of the Holy Spirit enable us to do the same without effort. The eagle rides upon the winds and updrafts of God without flapping their wings continually. So can we if we let our labors be God's instead of our own. The eagle will only eat the prey that it kills, not another's. Would this not be a good rule for a free society? She is on the wing daily to provide for her young unlike the oyster that lies at the bottom of the murky waters to consume whatever, with open mouth, falls down to her. Are we a nation of eagles, or of oysters? The eagle is sacrificial on behalf of her young. If she finds no prey, she will cut her own flesh to feed her young (Her young ones also suck up blood). I am so pleased that our Founding Fathers chose the great Bald Eagle as our national symbol and not the lazy and immovable oyster. Would it not be edifying if parents today were as sacrificial for their children as the great Eagle?


Friday, February 22, 2013

Devotion on The Book of Job (Chapter Thirty-Eight – Part Two) for Ember Friday after the First Sunday in Lent - 21 February 2013, Anno Domini



The First Sunday in Lent.
The Collect.

O
 LORD who for our sake didst fast forty days and forty nights; Give us grace to use such abstinence, that, our flesh being subdued to the Spirit we may ever obey thy godly motions in righteousness, and true holiness, to thy honour and glory, who livest and reignest with the Father and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end. Amen.

The first day of Lent, commonly called
Ash Wednesday.
The Collect.

A
LMIGHTY and everlasting God, who hatest nothing that thou hast made, and dost forgive the sins of all those who are penitent; Create and make in us new and contrite hearts, that we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may obtain of thee, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

¶ This Collect is to be said every day in Lent, after the Collect appointed for the day, until Palm Sunday.

            17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death? 18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all. 19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, 20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof? 21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great? 22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow? or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, 23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war? 24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? 25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; 26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; 27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? 28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? 29 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? 30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. 31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? 32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? 33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? 34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? 35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are? 36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? 37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven, 38 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together? 39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions, 40 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait? 41 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat. (Job 38:17-41)
            Have you tasted the growing savor of this Book from our early chapters weeks ago? Throughout the narrative, we can see, feel, and hear the Word of God preparing our hearts for the wondrous revelations of beauty which we now, and shortly shall, savor. With God, the best wine is always reserved to the last, and we see this is the case with Job. Slowly, a great and mighty truth is being revealed to our minds as a long sought out, and labored over, gem of delight. Job's imperfection along the way only adds to the comfort of God's love for us in spite of our failures and shortcomings. We, today, can boast of no stronger faith than Job. We still fail of the righteousness of God in our normal day to day endeavors. Like Job, we are often blind to our own blindness; but God will bring to our realization that it is He who is perfect in justice and righteousness, and it is He who has offered a reconciliation for us through the sacrifice of His only Begotten Son at a Hill called Golgotha. God's vision is far-looking while ours is very shortsighted. He looks down the eternity of ages and time, beyond the millennia, through the centuries of struggle, and His eye settles on insignificant little YOU. He has known you from Eternity Past, and He knows you in your present years. But He also knows you in your future ears. This is why God's judgment is righteous and just. He allows the court proceedings of your life to run until after the last witness is heard, and the last breath given, before rendering a verdict of justice. The DOOR spoken of in John 10:1-18 is not closed until all life is extinguished. Does this not give us cause for joy and hope?
            Many beauties of Creation are gradually revealed to us, as a proud Jeweler slowly uncovers His stones of brilliance, in the remaining verses of this chapter.
1.     God reveals the mystery of the Death Gate and Shoal of which He alone is Keeper. Further the formulation of snow, the rains o seasons, the silent dew, the clamorous thunders, and of the cold frost and icy blast. (verses 17-30)
2.     God's government of the natural formation of stars and clouds. (verses 31-38)
3.     Finally, the innate instincts instilled by God, into the natures of the beasts and fowl of the air – how the generous Hand of God feeds them in their wanderings.
Though the Words of God, conveyed by His prophets to us, bear that same authority and power as the words before us now, I am still made to wonder as a child does at his first glimpse of a multi-lighted Christmas Tree, when I survey these very Words of God presented to us here. How can our souls not be moistened with the silent Dews of Heaven as we read them?
Despite all popular acclaim to the contrary, no person has entered into the gates of death and returned to us for a visit – except the Lord Jesus Christ who rose eternally, and those whom He raised from a temporary tomb. 17 Have the gates of death been opened unto thee? or hast thou seen the doors of the shadow of death?

Death continues a mystery to us. We may only enter its gates once, but we shall never depart the gate until that Eternity-Piercing Voice of Christ shouts, "Arise! Come up Here!" No the `shadow of death' has no doors!  Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me…… (Psalms 23:4a) Death is only a shadow, and not real, to the child of god who forever has the Presence of God with Him. Where God is, there is no death. Do not forget, either, God's Rod and Staff. The Shepherd's staff has a crook on one end to save the lost or trapped sheep; but it has a sharp point on the other end to keep the sheep in line. God is using both ends in the life of Job – and in your life as well. "….thy rod and thy staff they comfort me."  (Psalms 23:4b)
18 Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all. Have you, Job, beheld the globe of the earth in its fullness, and yet pretend to know the ways of God its Maker? Every bucket we draw from the Well of the Water of Life becomes more amazing and more edifying as we go, as evidenced by the next verse: 19 Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, 20 That thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?Do we KNOW the origin and home of Light, Mr. Scientist? We claim to see light, but we do not – we see only its effect on the material objects it touches. Do we know that darkness is no force at all – only the absence of light? A tiny candle can dispel a room full of darkness at an instant. Do we know the limits of light's travel? I dare say we do not know, but God knows who placed the light ray in space and bound the constellations in their arrayed grandeur. At the final line, all Light comes from God – both spiritual and physical. And, just like the Holy Spirit and its nourishing Manna, light cannot be stored in jars and flasks.
21 Knowest thou it, because thou wast then born? or because the number of thy days is great? God is making jest of our short experience compared to that of the Ancient of Days who has existed from before the foundation of the world, the Creation of the Universe, and of all terrestrial life. God has been eye-witness to every detail of His Creation, for it was His own Artful Hands that shaped the hallowed scenes of morning dawning and evening sunset. Next comes one of the most beautiful half-verses of the Bible: 22 Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?  Were you present at the forming of the perfect ice crystals that form the snowflake? These form as ice crystals are produced from moisture condensation in clouds. These droplets adhere around a speck of dust or other particle in the atmosphere. As these small droplets are carried higher by the winds of God, they begin to freeze into crystals. As they gather more ice, they become heavier and may fall as snow. But snow crystals cannot become white until they are carried into the heights of heaven – much like the purity of a Christian witness. As we are drawn higher and higher in the turbulence of God's Winds, we are made purer and whiter. Is a snowflake perfect in its whiteness? No, it is not. I call to the bar the Psalmist: Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean: wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. (Psalms 51:7) Though a snowflake appears very white, at its core is a particle of impurity around which the ice crystals have formed. God first cleanses us inside with the purgative figuratively called hyssop, and then he washes our appearance as well so that we now can be even whiter than snow. The Holy Spirit making its abode in the Heart-Temple of God cleans house of all demons, then God makes our appearance vibrant and alive in purity of walk.
            "….or hast thou seen the treasures of the hail, 23 Which I have reserved against the time of trouble, against the day of battle and war?" Hail was considered an expression of God's vengeance. During the heat of battle, a driving hailstorm may fall full face upon belligerents on the far side of the battle line and the backs of those on the near side. It could very easily decide the outcome of battle.  24 By what way is the light parted, which scattereth the east wind upon the earth? Are we not struck speechless by these wonderful questions? God has divided the light evenly through all continents of the world even though they are at times on opposite sides of the light. The variations in landmass and sea water temperatures create the winds that blow landward. But this can only be observed by man and not created by him.
            25 Who hath divided a watercourse for the overflowing of waters, or a way for the lightning of thunder; 26 To cause it to rain on the earth, where no man is; on the wilderness, wherein there is no man; 27 To satisfy the desolate and waste ground; and to cause the bud of the tender herb to spring forth? What great Architect was it that designed the course of the Nile and the Amazon Rivers, or directed the course a bolt of lightning takes from cloud to cloud, and cloud to ground? God supplies His nourishing rains equally on the many people of the plains as well as the few in remote regions. Even that tender flower of beauty in the Desert Wilderness comes at the beckoning Voice of God. Man cannot yet create even a bud of Edelweiss. I am struck by the near-immortal words of Thomas Gray in elegy Written in a Country Churchyard:
Full many a gem of purest ray serene
The dark unfathom'd caves of ocean bear:
Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
And waste its sweetness on the desert air.
So God distributes His riches in random places without regard to the merits of the city.
            28 Hath the rain a father? or who hath begotten the drops of dew? I hope the reader can see the great beauty of this allegorical language of God. Who has fostered the rain? Can a man command rain to fall, or cause the meadows to be covered with sparkling dew? Dew forms silently and unnoticed in the hours of darkness. The moisture-laden air baths the green plants and their waters condensate around the tender plants so that they are gradually covered with the morning dew. That dew is not unlike the operation of the Holy Spirit in bringing love into our hearts, and forming the Waters of Life in our heart's chambers. Much more could be written to describe this wonderful phenomenon, but space does not permit. 29 Out of whose womb came the ice? and the hoary frost of heaven, who hath gendered it? 30 The waters are hid as with a stone, and the face of the deep is frozen. There is only one compound that behaves in the manner of a molecule of water. All substances contract with declining temperatures all the way to absolute cold; however, water contracts until it reaches four degrees above freezing, then it mysteriously begins to EXPAND!. This allows ice to cover lakes and streams with an insulating layer so that the waters beneath do not freeze solid. If this phenomenon did not occur, all of the fish in our lakes and streams would be frozen solid. God has designed everything well, and in a manner beyond our ability to comprehend. The hardness between water and the stone cannot be differentiated when the water is hard-frozen.  Ice covers the deep of lakes and ponds to the mystery of man.
            31 Canst thou bind the sweet influences of Pleiades, or loose the bands of Orion? 32 Canst thou bring forth Mazzaroth in his season? or canst thou guide Arcturus with his sons? Before the natural composition of the great constellations was better known to astronomers, God named them and described their natures.  God has flung the myriad formations of stars and constellations into space and appointed their permanent abodes.  33 Knowest thou the ordinances of heaven? canst thou set the dominion thereof in the earth? Well, with all our Hubble Telescopes and satellite probes, we are still trying to determine what those ordinances are; yet, we do not even know the limits of the Universe, or the population figures of stars and other heavenly bodies. We are not so very smart after all.
            34 Canst thou lift up thy voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover thee? 35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go, and say unto thee, Here we are? Will the clouds of the sky hear and obey your voice, O mortal man? Can you order the clouds to give up their water in times of draught? NO! You cannot! Elijah prayed for rain, and God sent it; but this is a far cry from man himself ordering the rain at will. We have a great Power upon which to call in times of draught. He can send the rain according to His express will. What of the lightning? Will it report to you, feeble man?
            36 Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given understanding to the heart? What tremendous oceans of truth could we wring from this verse! God has placed His wisdom in the heart of all of His nature. He has informed the human body through His DNA blueprint how much to grow, how to grow, what to favor, how to think, feel, and act. The heart knows to supply more blood when the activity of the body is greater, and the life-blood knows to send agents to encounter invading organism that might harm the body. Can medical science design such an intricate balance in nature?  Who taught the newborn colt to stand? Or the tiny fish to swim?
            37 Who can number the clouds in wisdom? or who can stay the bottles of heaven, 38 When the dust groweth into hardness, and the clods cleave fast together? By the way, Mister or Misses Reader: how many clouds are there in the skies of the world today? I'll wait for your answer. Can you release the water upon parched earth by opening the bottles of heaven? Maybe not?
            39 Wilt thou hunt the prey for the lion? or fill the appetite of the young lions, 40 When they couch in their dens, and abide in the covert to lie in wait? 41 Who provideth for the raven his food? when his young ones cry unto God, they wander for lack of meat. God, through His natural laws initiated at Creation, provides for the tiny lion cub as well as the high borne eagle. When these little ones lift their cries to God for want of food, He supplies through His natural agencies.
            Here ends one of the most beautiful and meaningful chapters of the Bible. It is obvious to me that the mere words of man are no match for those Divine and Heavenly Words of God. It seems almost presumptuous on my part to attempt a commentary of these gems of truth and eloquence. I apologize for the length of this devotion, but which parts would you have me omit? I commend to your heart the pure Words of God contained in this, and following chapters, of Job.