Posted in theology

100th day of school: One foot in front of the other

By Elizabeth Prata

The other day was the 100th day of the school year. The kids have 80 more to go, I have 90. We’re over the hump.

It’s amazing how fast time goes. I vividly remember school day 1, in August. Hot, sticky, kids scared, excited, uncertain. Three new classes were transferred to our school and with them, 7 new staff members to meet and get to know. The new year is fresh and full of promise and there were roads we could not see the end of.

even pennies add up eventually. Photo by Adam Rhodes on Unsplash

Our school has a big celebration, with kids and staff dressing up in 100th day gear, songs played on the intercom at intervals, and general atmosphere of fun.

I was explaining to the kindergarteners about what the 100th day means. I brought it down to their level, saying, “You’ve said the Pledge of Allegiance 100 times. You went into the lunch room 100 times. You got on the bus 100 times.” Their eyes open wide and they are amazed at the big number.

I got to thinking about what I do every day. I unlock the double doors at opening bell and greet each child coming in. I’ve done that 100 times, since I’ve not taken a sick day at all this year. I’ve turned on and off the lamps in my room 100 times. I’ve said the alphabet 100 times.

My job is good but many parts of it are either menial (like opening ketchup packs for kids at lunch), or are important but the yield is hidden and delayed. It’s not often I get a big AHA! from a student with the clouds of inexperience parting to beam light on a newly acquired skill. I just do what I do every day and hope to see results…someday.

As I mulled that it occurred to me just HOW cumulative education is. You can’t see a growth spurt all at once, but looking back, one can see growth. A definite progress. 100 days IS a milestone, and students who entered in August not knowing letters or sounds of the alphabet, are now reading. Those who didn’t know numbers are now adding. Those who never held a pencil are now writing. Wow.

It’s the same with sanctification. You read a Bible passage each day. You pray. You work at killing some sin you’re dealing with. You do this day by day. You don’t see growth. You don’t feel growth. But you ARE growing! It accumulates.

How can it not be? 100 times of anything is a lot. Aren’t we more sanctified after reading the Bible 100 times? Wouldn’t we be closer to God after 100 prayers? Wouldn’t that sin be smaller after killing it 100 times?

It’s also the same with kindness. No job is too menial, too insignificant, too overlooked to have an impact. It might not have a global impact, but it may have an impact on someone’s world. Like this. This man thanks his wife’s stylist for haircut- his wife suffered from dementia, and…well just read it. The stylist may have given 100 haircuts that day, but this one gave a woman her last, best day.

The letter was sent anonymously. Source


You might not see growth, but be assured, if you are striving, even walking, even occasionally stumbling as you walk, you are growing. It is inevitable. Fruit grows, it doesn’t languish. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. The Spirit in you nurtures growth, because such growth in His likeness glorifies Jesus.

Posted in theology

Potpourri: How to change your spouse, mental disorder labels, 5-minute chapter summaries, more!

By Elizabeth Prata

EPrata photo

I’m reading a commentary on Habakkuk. This prophet’s 3 chapters go like this:

LORD, why aren’t you doing anything about this?
I am, Habakkuk, see?
No, LORD, not THAT!
Habakkuk, but then, this.
Oh. You are Great! And I am not- but my faith is increased!

Our Lord is kind to be patient and merciful with us. We complain, we challenge, we ask, and when He answers as He did Habakkuk, Job, Daniel, Jonah, etc, it’s a glorious thing to ponder that He engages with His people – with the old Prophets directly and us today, through His word. Omniscient, all-powerful, His thoughts so far above our thoughts, yet He loves, cherishes, and involves His own people. He will hear your questions, too, in prayer if you ask. Beseech Him today, for everything, or nothing, just to tell Him you love Him.

Here is a roundup of links you might enjoy:

How to Change Your Spouse in One Simple Step It’s easier than you think.

A short encouragement from Puritan Thomas Watson. Really short. Really encouraging.

2Be Like Christ has 5 minute chapter summaries, like this one from James chapter 1. There are more here


I’m on the autism spectrum. They tested me when I was 8, but in 1968 there was no autism diagnoses for people, it wasn’t in the DSM yet. So the actual word never came up and nothing was ever really done to help me adjust to society. I just went along, feeling weird and not understanding, well, anything. When I was 50 years old I became aware of the word, read the encyclopedia and DSM about it, and went “Ah! That explains a few things!” But I didn’t seek a medical or psychological diagnosis. Obtaining one for an adult is difficult and expensive. But the main reason I shelved getting one was that I know that I am weak and if I had a diagnosis, I’d rest in it, rely on it, and take advantage of it. I decided being in Christ was enough. For some families, getting a diagnosis for certain things brings some much needed help, information, or funds. For sur! So, what to do? The Cripplegate answers this question: What Should You Do With Your Diagnosis? Responding Biblically to Mental Disorder Labels.

Read about Our Intercessor/Advocate from Dallas Holm, and be joyfully encouraged!

EPrata photo

I’m big on the fear of God.

The Fear of God, By Albert N. Martin

There was a time when even the unconverted would refer to a Christian as a “God fearing man.” With this theme so prominently and frequently mentioned throughout the Scripture—both Old and New Testaments—it is regrettable that in our day it can be rare for a sermon to be preached on this most important topic, let alone an entire series. These messages therefore are much welcomed and a “must hear” for sheep who desire a masterful, “meat-of-the-word” treatment of this weighty subject.” This is an introduction to an ntir, loaded page of sermons and writings about the Fear of God: you can find here.

Awww, the classic movie Roman Holiday turns 70 this year. World has a retrospective on the Gregory Peck- Audrey Hepburn film.

Beautiful hymn at Rebecca Writes: Like a River Glorious.

Feeling like a shopping spree? The Biblical Creative has some new products; Gospel tracts, Tee shirts, hoodies: here. Want some quality handmade leather products like bookmarks, journals, key rings, here at Robrasim. Need some Just Thinking merch? Letting your haters be your motivators? Bubble stickers? Mugs? They got ’em and more.

Let’s end with Dr. Lisle at the Biblical Science Institute and an essay on “Interpreting the Bible’s teaching on the Eternal State“. W are eternal beings with an eternal destination of only on of two places: heaven or hell. We Christians should feel gratitude, relief, and fervency for knowing in His grace He saved us from ‘the other place’ and destined us for his bosom in heaven. Think eternally, look up, and praise!

Posted in theology

Let us often think of home!

By Elizabeth Prata

The devotional is from GraceGems, a site stuffed with goodies from the past. Much to read and be edified by there.

Today is Sunday, the Lord’s Day. I pray you have a good church to attend. Gather with the saints in fellowship to worship, pray, sing, learn. This world wearies us, this is where we go to drink the Living Water, be refreshed, and go on in the week proclaiming His excellencies. Sunday is a day of rest, and don’t you feel rested after resting in Him? And just think of the eternal rest we will be given by our gracious Savior. DO think of home more often!

Tim Challies posted this from Dan Doriani:

Now on to James Smith’s devotional-

James Smith, (1802—1862) “A Devotional Glimpse at Psalm 23

“I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!” Psalm 23:6

Notice, David’s expectation for eternity. Not in the sheepfold in the wilderness, but in the house of the Lord! The dwelling-place of God, the family residence of the Father of mercies and His beloved children. In that house, we shall have . . .
  all our desires gratified,
  all our prayers answered, and
  our highest expectations more than realized!

There we shall dwell in peace, united to all the saints, and enjoying the society of all the ransomed brethren! All friendship will be unchangeable, and fellowship perpetual and pure.

There we shall dwell and worship–and our worship will be spiritual, pure, and perfect!

There we shall dwell and enjoy–and our enjoyments will be dignified, delightful, and eternal.

There we shall dwell and obey–and our obedience will be perfect, hearty, and perpetual.

There, we shall dwell and rest–and our rest will be sweet, refreshing, and satisfying.
There will be no wilderness storms there.
There will be no cruel, crafty, malignant foes there.

O glorious prospect! O sweet anticipation!


In our Father’s house are many mansions; and all those mansions will be occupied, for . . .
  every one beloved and chosen by the Father,
  every one for whom Jesus became a substitute and sacrifice,
  every one ever born of the Spirit, will be there!

All God’s children shall be there–not one of them lost!
All God’s sheep shall be there–not one hoof left behind!

There the Eternal Father will be surrounded by, and enjoy the society of all His happy family.
There the glorious Savior will see of the travail of His soul, and be fully and forever satisfied.
There the Holy Spirit will fill all His temples, and enjoy His divine workmanship, and the presence of all whom He has prepared for glory.
There, Jehovah, at home with His people–will manifest forth His glory, and pour floods of light, love, and blessing upon them forever!

Well then may the Psalmist say, “In Your presence is fullness of joy; in Your right hand are eternal pleasures!”

Let us often think of home!
This vain world is not our rest.
Here on earth, we have no continuing city.
Home, the home of the believer’s heart, is in the skies . . .
  where Jesus is,
  where Jesus reigns,
  where love is perfect,
  where there is always a full tide of joy,
  where God displays all his glory,
  where grace satisfies the utmost desires of every renewed soul!

Posted in abraham, end time, prophecy, remember lot's wife

Abraham’s altars and the lesson for us

Genesis is such an amazing book of the Bible. In re-reading Genesis 12, I was again astounded by the depth and complexity of human history and our relationship with God. Gen. 12 is the famous chapter in which God called Abram (later name changed to Abraham) and made a significant promise:

I will make you a great nation; … I will bless those who bless you. And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:2a & 3a)

You can be sure that the promise of God is solid, and that we are seeing the curse of nations who curse Israel beginning before our eyes. In verse 7 of Genesis 12, “Then the LORD appeared to Abram,” God appeared to Abraham. In my interpretation he appeared as the Son (Jesus said in John 8:58,”Before Abraham was, I AM.” He was quoting God speaking to Moses at the burning bush in Exodus 3:14). God appeared to Abram! Think on that for a moment. The El-Shaddai, the I AM, the ALMIGHTY, appeared to a man, walked with him, spoke to him, comforted him, and commanded him. It is a shuddering thought to ponder the gravity of those moments. That gravity was not lost on Abraham, who built altars to Him all over the Land wherever he went. Abraham did not build houses for himself, he built altars to God.

Then the LORD appeared to Abram and said, “To your descendants I will give this land.” And there he built an altar to the LORD, who had appeared to him. And he moved from there to the mountain east of Bethel, and he pitched his tent with Bethel on the west and Ai on the east; there he built an altar to the LORD and called on the name of the LORD. So Abram journeyed, going on still toward the South.

Abraham built altars right away, to mark his obedience to the LORD, and to sacrifice and worship. When Abraham came back from Egypt, “to the place of the altar which he had made there at first. And there Abram called on the name of the LORD.” (Gen. 13:3-4) which is another way of saying worship and sacrifice. When Abraham and Lot had separated and Abram moved to the region of Hebron, he “built an altar there to the Lord” (Gen. 13:18).

Abraham corresponded with the LORD by building altars for worship. Building an altar is an intentional, physical act. Worshiping on front of an altar is an intentional, physical act. When Abraham returned from Egypt, Abraham saw the altar he had originally made and ‘called on the name of the LORD’ in worship and thanks. In this case, the altar was a reminder of his relationship with the great I AM.

We do not need to build altars, but we do need to be as dedicated and as intentional as Abraham in our relationship with God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. You note that when Abraham and Lot separated, there was no mention of Lot building an altar to the LORD. Lot was with Abraham when Abraham got the calling from God (Gen. 12:5) and was with Abraham throughout the blessing of his peoples’ increase. Lot saw God working in his family’s life. He reaped the blessings of Abraham’s obedience. But Lot did not build an altar. And from the biblical record we see how the distance between man and God can slowly grow when we fail to consistently correspond with the LORD. Lot crept toward Sodom, closer and closer he pitched his tent, until he was finally living inside the city with all its sin and perversity. Though the sins of the city grieved Lot greatly (2 Pet. 2:6-8) Lot did not build an altar. And in the end, Lot lost his city, his possessions, his family, his wife, (“Remember Lot’s wife” Luke 17:32) and sin fell upon his daughters, who lay with their father.

We do not build altars … but we pray. Our part of the correspondence between ourselves and God/Jesus/Holy Spirit is maintained through prayer, corporate worship, and fellowship in the body of the believers. Is your heart an altar to I AM? Do you pray constantly? Do you worship in faith and obedience, as Abraham did? No? Remember Lot’s wife. Jesus said:

Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed. “In that day, he who is on the housetop, and his goods are in the house, let him not come down to take them away. And likewise the one who is in the field, let him not turn back. Remember Lot’s wife.

Build an altar of prayer in your life and you will be blessed by the presence of the I AM Himself!!!

Posted in theology

Do we forgive people who haven’t said ‘I’m sorry’?

By Elizabeth Prata

Forgiveness is a Christian activity we should have on our heart and mind often. When Mike Riccardi preached at Grace Community Church recently he addressed the topic. Later on his Facebook page, he posted Albert Martin’s words. Someone asked him a question that I’ve been asked, and it was a question I’ve often wondered myself. Are we supposed to forgive a person who is unrepentant of their sin against you?

First, Albert Martin words posted from Mike Riccardi:

The one who forgives makes a solemn four-pronged promise. When you say to someone who has asked your forgiveness for a specific sin, ‘I forgive you,’ you are making this promise:

1. I will not knowingly remember this thing against you.

2. I will not speak of this thing to any others.

3. I will not raise it with you again.

4. I will not allow it to be a barrier in the restoration of our relationship.

I grew up in an Italian family. There were certain things I was taught, either implicitly or explicitly. One was that we must hold grudges. If a wrong done to us was bad enough, you turn a grudge turned into a vendetta. Secondly, the longer you hold a grudge or perpetuate a vendetta, the stronger you looked to others. Naturally in the family there were arguments, splits, and anger abounding. Segments of the family that were “not talking” to others. People were ‘in’ or they were ‘out’. Sigh. Needless to say, forgiveness offered was fairly unknown. So was seeking forgiveness. So, needless to say, after I came to Christ (thankfully!) I had a hard time understanding the concept of forgiveness.

After Mike Riccardi’s post above had been up a while, a lady asked this question based on the 4 points:

Should this be our promise even if one does not ask for forgiveness?

Mike Riccardi answered:

“Otherwise sound Bible teachers disagree on this point, namely, whether mutual forgiveness (sinner to sinner) is to be conditional (as is God’s forgiveness of us, conditioned upon genuine repentance) or unconditional (unlike God’s forgiveness of us).”

“I am one who takes the former position: that the Bible makes a distinction between the disposition or readiness to forgive (e.g., Ps 86:5) and forgiveness itself, and instructs us to always cultivate that disposition or readiness to forgive, such that there is never any bitterness or vengeance in the heart, and such that the moment that forgiveness is genuinely sought from us we grant it eagerly from the heart.”

“But at the same time, I believe the Bible teaches that the actual conferral of forgiveness, by definition, only happens when an offending party confesses and seeks forgiveness from an offended party. I base that on a couple of strands of biblical teaching.”

  1. The distinction between the readiness to forgive and forgiveness, as above.
  2. The consistent teaching that God’s forgiveness of sinners (which is conditioned upon the sinner’s confession and repentance) is to be the pattern of our forgiveness of one another—not only explicitly in passages like Eph 4:32 and Col 3:13, but also indicated by the fact that the very same terms are used for God’s forgiveness of us and our forgiveness of one another. If God does not confer forgiveness upon any except those “who call upon” Him, but rather stands “ready to forgive” them (Ps 86:5), then this ought to be our practice as well.
  3. Luke 17:3-4 seems to me to be the clearest passage in which this topic is dealt with, and Jesus’ instruction is explicitly conditional: Be on your guard! “If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.” Here, forgiveness is explicitly conditioned upon repentance. I simply cannot square the teaching of unconditional forgiveness with the “if-then” conditional statements in this passage.

“But again, let me repeat: this does not mean I think we should cherish an unforgiving spirit or nurse resentment against someone who has sinned against us but who hasn’t come to seek our forgiveness. Both I (who think forgiveness is conditional) and the one who thinks forgiveness is unconditional believe that the Christian’s behavior should look exactly the same in this scenario—cultivating a cheerful disposition and readiness to forgive, eliminating any vengefulness or bitterness in their spirit against the other person, behaving happily and without rancor toward him even before he asks forgiveness. The only difference is in what we call that behavior (readiness to forgive vs. forgiveness itself); there’s no distinction in any behavior itself. Hope that helps.” –end Riccardi quote

It does help. A biblically based answer to a Christian life question is always helpful. So, have a soft heart and abounding love for others in the faith, always being ready to forgive, but actively conferring it only if the offending party has sought it. And don’t nurse bitterness.

I noticed that in my family, nursing grudges and fanning the flames of anger is a heavy baggage. It is a burdensome load to carry around. If a person who genuinely wronged us seeks forgiveness, the Holy Spirit empowers us to be genuinely forgiving. And once we release that load, how light we feel! How clearly we can see the other person’s pain and hurt. We should be empathetic to the person who wronged us, because people don’t usually hurt us out of malice. They’re hurting too. Clearing that up with the fragrance of forgiveness heals wounds.

But on the other hand, it was good to read that we are not doormats, not allowing every kind of behavior and forgiving it whether the person is sorry or not. I, too, agree that if the person comes to you, we should be ready to forgive.

Some years ago I accompanied the kindergarten class on a field trip to the Fire Station. Of course the kids were excited to see the big shiny trucks and all the gear. The firemen explained how they are always ready to race out and fight a fire. They do a lot of work in advance of a fire. Firefighters make sure the truck is clean and everything stored in its place. Even their personal gear is ready, down to the boots they can hop into, so they can race out to do their job immediately. A Christian should likewise be actively preparing ahead of time for the moment we can forgive.

Cultivate a soft heart, be ready to forgive if the person coms to you, and don’t feel guilty about not conferring forgiveness if they haven’t. Your cultivation of forgiveness will be ready for the next person to come to you!

Posted in theology

God laid it on my heart?

By Elizabeth Prata

I’ve been writing lately about how the constant barrage from female so-called Bible teachers claiming “God told me,” known as direct revelation, is building a foundation of sand rather than on the rock of biblical sufficiency. I’ve said many times not to accept someone’s claim of direct revelation. If they teach that, avoid the teacher.

But it does beg the question- HOW does God lead? We know He does. We know the indwelling Spirit in believers illuminates the scriptures, leads us in the path of holiness, and convicts us of sin. He is involved. But how?

I was asked this good question: “How do I respond when someone says ‘God laid it on my heart?’ “

First, understand that God, rather, the Holy Spirit, has a ministry of illumination. He brings light to your mind when you study the scriptures. He reveals wisdom and understanding to your mind, transforming it to a likeness of Jesus’ mind. When you read the Bible, then meditate on the scriptures, then apply them to your life, it is the Spirit sustaining you in this process. When you are reading the Bible another day and bazinga! something suddenly makes sense from something you read before, that is the Spirit’s illumination. When you are in a situation and bazinga! You suddenly know what to do based on a biblical principle, that is the Spirit illuminating the word to your mind.

When you feel something laid on your heart that convicts you, something you feel bad about, like harsh words, or a sin, or wounding another person, or even a secret sin- that is the Spirit ‘laying on your heart’ a conviction to repent.

The Spirit DOES ‘lay on our heart’ illumination and conviction. That is His ministry to our conscience and our mind.

If you feel ‘God laid it on my heart’ to tell someone a foretelling prophecy, or to move the family to another city, or to change jobs, or to drop out of college, or to take a trip, etc, well, that’s just your own decision making. You’re attributing your own personal decision to the Spirit, which is dangerous to do. We can’t put words in His mouth He didn’t say.

Here is an article excerpt explaining-

How can I know the will of God? First, I need to realize that God’s revelation has been “once for all delivered” (Jude 3), which means no further revelation will be made. Second, I need to accept that God’s revealed will in His Word is complete and all-sufficient (2 Tim. 3:16-17), supplying me with everything I need to live and to serve God (2 Pet. 1:3). Third, I need to admit that if I believe God laid something on my heart, then someone else has an equal right to claim that God has laid the complete opposite on his heart, and who is to say who is “right” and who is “wrong”? That’s why God’s Word is the perfect, complete and final standard in all things (John 12:48). ~Source

We might feel an impression to do something, or have a feeling, or follow a leading, but we cannot know specifically that it is the Spirit impressing or leading in that particular instance. Here is Phil Johnson of Grace Community Church, speaking to that issue after the Strange Fire Conference held some years ago:

“The Bible is perfectly sufficient, and that means someone’s personal impression based on a dream or a vision or a voice in the head has no place in the church’s teaching ministry. Those things have no legitimate authority over the conscience of any believer. We are to order our lives by a more sure word of prophecy, namely Scripture.” ~Phil Johnson

So to the question at hand: The following was asked at The Strange Fire Conference, answered by Phil Johnson:

Q. How do we distinguish between the legitimate prompting of the Holy Spirit and our own thoughts or will?

A. While God can prompt us to think or do something, He has not given a clear and objective mechanism to identify when He is doing that. Since no one can identify with absolute certainty the source of the impressions he experiences, he must not ascribe authority to them or rely upon them as direction from God. John MacArthur gives good advice on that point in this downloadable audio. Mistaking a personal impression for divine guidance can lead us far astray from God’s will and may cause serious problems in our lives. ~Phil Johnson

Q. How should a Christian respond to what he thinks might be a leading of the Holy Spirit?

By comparing the impression with the objective, authoritative revelation God gave us—the Scripture. So, does the thought you are having agree with biblical theology? Is the action condemned or condoned in God’s Word? Will that choice ultimately bring glory to God? As you answer these questions in light of biblical teaching, you can know whether you are walking in the will of God.

Look for the word “decided” in the New Testament. Paul decided to do this or that, decided to go here or there. He legitimately received direct instruction from the Holy Spirit, the canon was not written yet. But Paul also decided to do things. We do not leave our decision making faculties behind when we become a Christian.

Acts 16:4, Acts 20:3, Acts 20:16, Acts 27:1, Titus 3:12

So, ladies, if it is something you want to do and it’s aligned with the scriptures in principle, you do not have to say “God laid it on my heart.” That’s unnecessary. Just say, “I decided…” God’s will for your life is to obey Him where there are explicit commands and to obey Him to the best of your interprtation where there are implicit concepts. In between, just decide.

Further Resources

Ligonier: The Holy Spirit’s Ministry

Grace To You: Does God Give Personal Direction through a Still Small Voice?

Posted in theology

Just thinking…about my Bible reading the other day

By Elizabeth Prata

Virgil Walker and DB Harrison have a podcast called “Just Thinking“. They discuss cultural issues of the day and instruct listeners how to think about them biblically. They are big on thinking. The men do an excellent job of showing how to think through biblical concepts.

I am big on thinking too. We should read the Bible every day. And not just read it but at least some of the time we should think deeply about what we read. Meditate on it. To do that we ask questions as we read. Why is that phrase there? What does that word mean? What does an acacia tree look like? What does this metaphor about an ox being muzzled mean? And then spend some time finding the answers. I like BibleHub, GotQuestions, looking up parallel verses, and reading a larger context before and after the pertinent verses, to help me.

Other times, we just read it and then RE-read it. Then stop to think. This is what I did the other day and here was my thinking process.

Genesis 14:12-14

They also took Lot, Abram’s nephew, and his possessions and departed; now he was living in Sodom. Then a fugitive came and told Abram the Hebrew. Now he was dwelling by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner, and these were in a covenant with Abram. So Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, and he led out his trained men, born in his house, 318 in number, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

In Genesis 13, just one chapter prior, Abraham and Lot had separated. One took his flocks one direction and the other man took his in the opposite direction. They settled. The Bible is 7000 years of actual history and in order to put it all in one book, the timing of things is conflated. We read chapter 13 and go to 14 and think it’s a few days later because the events being described are successive. What we might visualize in our minds is Abraham and Lot not much older or not much time had passed. But there IS a clue to how much time had passed.

In the passage above, there is a phrase we should pay attention to. “Born in his house.” Let’s put 2 and 2 together. Abraham sent his trained men out to rescue Lot from the king that had grabbed him. The men who were trained had been “born in his house”. Three hundred and eighteen men had been born under Abraham’s headship and had been trained and were ready to go out to battle. So that means these men must have been at least 15 or 20 years old. THAT’S how much time had passed.

And indeed Abram was 70 when he got the call from God in Ur, and 86 when the covenant between God and Abraham happens (seen in the next chapter) so that at least is a passage of time of 16 years when Uncle Abraham goes out to get Lot.

I find the best way to put insights together is to read slowly, or several times. And to think about what I read and what it means. The very best way to gain insight into what you read in God’s word is to pray to the Spirit for wisdom and illumination. He will give it.

But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5)

But ask in confident trust that God will deliver it.

But he must ask in faith, doubting nothing, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:6)

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is dignified, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, consider these things. (Philippians 4:8)

Posted in theology

What was the difference between a Judge and a King?

By Elizabeth Prata

Pics from unsplash

A friend asked me the titular question yesterday. It’s a good one. I was encouraged because this was a young person, and the question reveals how she thinks- biblically.

It’s a big question which would require multi-week study for me, so I went to my Logos, and my answer is copied and pasted from the resources Logos offers.

Roles
Samuel served as the pivotal transitional figure between the time of the judges and the inauguration of the monarchy. He led Israel in several roles:

• Prophet
• Seer
• Priest
• Judge
• Father

Judge
Samuel was the last judge presented in the Bible. He is described as a judge in two places. In 1 Samuel 7:6 he judged the people at Mizpah. Also, 1 Samuel 7:15–17 records that he judged Israel all of the days of his life and travelled on a circuit throughout Israel. Additionally, in 1 Sam 12:6 he tells the people that he is entering into judgment with them. Samuel is also presented in a list of judges who presided over Israel in 1 Sam 12:11 (Stuessy, Samuel, 35–36).

Part of his duties in being a judge seem to have been calling Israel to battle (1 Sam 4:1) and subduing the Philistine threat (1 Sam 7:13).

~Source: Samuel the Prophet. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

The Emergence of the Role of Judge

Moses acts as Israel’s first judge (Exod 18:13), among his many roles. He describes his judgeship by saying, “And Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. When they have a matter, it comes to me, and I judge between a man and his neighbor and make known the statutes of God and His laws.” (Exod 18:15–16).

It is Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, who suggests that Moses stop doing this task alone and appoint others to help him.

It may be that the reference to these judges in military terms (“commanders”) and their roles around the time of the invasion of Canaan foreshadows the judges becoming not just arbitrators but also military leaders (Josh 8:33; 23:2; 24:1; compare Num 25:18).

Moses’ description of this office also incorporates spiritual leadership over the people, as he is careful to note that the people come to him to seek God and to know God’s rule and instructions. It is this same spiritual leadership that seems to be expected of the judges within the book of Judges, although many do not live up to the expectation.

~Source: Judge, Role in Israel. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

Israel’s Monarchy

Much of the material in Judges relates to the idea of leadership and the monarchy. For example, Gideon refuses kingship, declaring that only Yahweh is king (8:23). Yet he and his sons looked like kings (8:18); Gideon lived like a king (8:30–31) and named one of his sons “Abimelech,” which means “my father is king” (9:1). The narrative shows negative aspects of kingship. For instance, Abimelech kills his 70 brothers to gain the position of leader (9:5), and Jotham gives a scathing parable against kingship (9:7–21). Such features have led to the perception that Judges argues against any type of monarchy.

However, the concluding chapters of Judges (17–21) include stories that show the need for a king, leading to the perception that Judges is an apologetic for the monarchy. In addition, this section explicitly states the lack of royal leadership four times: “In those days, there was no king in Israel” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25). The final occurrence of this statement is the closing line of the book.

There are a variety of views regarding what or whom the author of Judges has in mind when it comes to kingship:

  1. Israel needs a king (Lilley, “Literary Appreciation“; Cundall, “An Apology,” 178–81).
  2. Judges’ main theme is the Israelites’ failure to realize their goal because they had no king (Wolf, “Judges”).
  3. Josiah is portrayed as the ideal earthly king, but Yahweh is the divine king (Matthew, Judges, Ruth).
  4. Judges represents three stages of kings—Hezekiah, Josiah, and a future king (Stone, “Judges, Book of”).
  5. Jeroboam and Rehoboam are in view (Butler, Judges).
  6. Judges sets David against Saul and his followers (O’Connell, Rhetoric; Sweeney, “Davidic Polemics”).
  7. Kingship is not ideal, but it is preferred over the judge system (Amit, The Book of Judges, 93).
  8. All forms of leadership are imperfect; kingship will vanish in Israel just as judgeship did (Olson, “Judges”).
  9. Judges originates in the Josianic Deuteronomistic History and uncovers a polemic against the Levites and their taking of tax money (Yee, “Ideological Criticism”).
  10. Deteriorated relationship with Yahweh ultimately leads to monarchy as Israel’s only way out of its leadership crisis (Schneider, Judges, xii—xiii).

Judges appears to examine various types of candidates for leadership in Israel, demonstrating that none qualifies as a proper model for kingship:

  1. Othniel is the top choice as a model king, but he is inactive and passive.
  2. Ehud’s straightforward, violent approach is effective but unsuitable for all situations.
  3. Shamgar may be foreign and leaves no sign of action.
  4. Gideon becomes a demanding leader who follows his own vengeful path and ultimately forsakes Yahweh for better financial arrangements.
  5. Abimelech is a bloodthirsty, self-centered warrior who lives recklessly.
  6. Jephthah knows Israel’s history and negotiates well, but he recklessly makes deals with Yahweh, resulting in his sacrifice of his daughter and the eventual decimation of the tribe of Ephraim.
  7. Samson has great strength but doesn’t show respect for anyone; he acts to protect himself and is highly independent.

The text of Judges ultimately provides no clear resolution about the monarchy. Would a king serve Yahweh or personal power? Is monarchy with anyone as king better than moral anarchy? These questions are left unanswered as the book draws to a close.

~Source: Judges, Book of. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

Jehoshaphat also stressed the connection between human and divine justice, recognizing that decisions of the appointed judges were being made on behalf of Yahweh Himself (2 Chr 19:6–7; Jung, “Judicial System in Ancient Israel,” 290). However, while the judges in early Israel saw themselves in more of a discerning role, seeking to determine Yahweh’s will, the judges in Jehoshaphat’s time saw themselves in more of a representative role, judging on Yahweh’s behalf.

Generations later, King Hezekiah consolidated the judicial system further. Puckett argues that under King Hezekiah’s leadership, the state took up most of the judicial authority, as judges were tasked with hearing and deciding cases in the king’s name.

~Source: Judicial Courts. In The Lexham Bible Dictionary. Lexham Press.

There was a difference between a king and a judge. A judge was a leader raised up by God, usually to meet a specific need in a time of crisis. When the crisis was over usually the judge went back to doing what he did before. A king not only held his office as king as long as he lived, he also passed his throne down to his descendants. Judges did not make a “government.” They met a specific need in a time of crisis. Kings establish a standing government with a bureaucracy, which can be both a blessing and a curse to any people. ~Source: Enduring Word Commentary


So…clear as mud, right? The idea is to always ask questions. As you read God’s word, ask, why is this word here, what does that mean? What does this topography, tree/plant look like, and so on. The word IS living and active, so ask it questions. Pray for wisdom, and then go for it in researching the answer.

Posted in theology

This is why I love Twitter

By Elizabeth Prata

The other day Beth Moore tweeted something stupid in a Twitter thread. She dismissed Jonathan Edwards and his impact, saying for the life of her she can’t figure out the attraction. She disliked his forceful approach to preaching the wrath and conviction of sin, preferring to focus on her usual emotional feelings and such. I introduced Edwards in a previous essay, encouraging people to go look up his works, which are great even 300 years later.

Here is an article remarking on the resulting controversy if you’re interested. I’m much more interested in the replies. I screen shot a few. I love how some people can tweet a pithy reply within the character limits, concisely stating a truth, presenting a witticism, or even doing apologetics in short form.

@MichelleDLesley: “Posting a tweet that caused bunches of people to Google and read “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” is probably the greatest gospel impact Beth Moore has ever had.”

LOL

I love Twitter. If you follow the right folks, Godly and intelligent, you will be edified. I learn a lot from folks on that particular social media. I follow good links, see grace, know who to pray for and am prayed for, observe wisdom, charity, and grace. It’s also fun. Not that I can’t experience those things in real life, I do. But Twitter gives me another window to the global church and I’m grateful for it. We are not alone, not a remnant, and the church is thriving!

Further Resources

On this day: Jonathan Edwards preached Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God

Posted in theology

Who was Jonathan Edwards?

By Elizabeth Prata

The Puritans are certainly worth reading. If you follow this blog for even a short time, you know I’m going to bring those guys up, lol. They were part of my pre-salvation, arousing a curiosity in me as to the worth of God, that they would leave all they knew to come to the New World so as to worship. That alone told me the worth of Jesus, something in my sinful, unconverted state I didn’t understand but was curious about.

Jonathan Edwards is considered the ‘last Puritan’. He is also almost universally acknowledged as America’s greatest theologian. Joel Beeke, a Puritan authority, said Edwards “was a powerful force behind the First Great Awakening, as well as a champion of Christian zeal and spirituality.”

Edwards lived from 1703-1758. During his shortish life, he wrote profusely, constantly, and expertly. His writings on theology were well-founded and concise, always pointing to the greatness of God.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says “His work as a whole is an expression of two themes — the absolute sovereignty of God and the beauty of God’s holiness.”

Encyclopedia Britannica says, “Jonathan Edwards, (born October 5, 1703, East Windsor, Connecticut [U.S.]—died March 22, 1758, Princeton, New Jersey), greatest theologian and philosopher of British American Puritanism, stimulator of the religious revival known as the “Great Awakening,” and one of the forerunners of the age of Protestant missionary expansion in the 19th century.

That is an incredible legacy.

He ascended his first pulpit as a sole pastor in Northampton, the most important church in Massachusetts outside of Boston. In his first published sermon, preached in 1731 to the Boston clergy and significantly entitled God Glorified in the Work of Redemption, by the Greatness of Man’s Dependence upon Him, in the Whole of It. Edwards preached 1 Corinthians 1.29, 30, 31, saying at the outset, “All the Good that they have is in and through Christ; He is made unto us Wisdom, Righteousness, Sanctification, and Redemption.”

Edwards is well known for his many books, such as The End for Which God Created the World, The Life of David Brainerd, which inspired thousands of missionaries throughout the 1800s, and Religious Affections, which is “probably the most profound analysis of spiritual experience ever written – and by the most brilliant philosopher/theologian to ever come from North America (and possibly the English language)” says one reviewer.

He also penned the ’70 Resolutions’, “As a young man – a teenager, really – Jonathan Edwards set down on paper a series of thoughts and practices to help cultivate his growth in grace. (See 2 Peter 3.18)  Edwards then re-read this list at least once a week to keep his mind focused and renewed. The result was that he became a man of humble godliness, who was to become a significant spark used to ignite one of the greatest revivals known to history.” (Source)

Edwards had a wide range of interests. He was was pastor, writer, theologian, missionary supporter, college President, but also a natural history expert. He was very interested in natural history and took long walks or horse rides with pen and notebook in hand to take notes on his observations. As a precocious 11-year-old, he’d observed and written an essay detailing the ballooning behavior of some spiders. He later published this as a scientific essay titled “The Flying Spider”.

When people think of Jonathan Edwards they most likely think of his most famous sermon, Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God. In that sermon, widely acknowledged for sparking the Great Awakening, a massive revival where many souls were won to God, Edwards used hard truths and vivid imagery to make clear the dangerous state of the unconverted. He used a spider allusion, given his knowledge of and interest in the crawling arachnid. Here are just a few excerpts-

Your wickedness makes you as it were heavy as lead, and to tend downwards with great weight and pressure towards hell; and if God should let you go, you would immediately sink and swiftly descend and plunge into the bottomless gulf, and your healthy constitution, and your own care and prudence, and best contrivance, and all your righteousness, would have no more influence to uphold you and keep you out of hell, than a spider’s web would have to stop a falling rock. 

The God that holds you over the pit of hell, much as one holds a spider, or some loathsome insect over the fire, abhors you, and is dreadfully provoked: his wrath towards you burns like fire; he looks upon you as worthy of nothing else, but to be cast into the fire; he is of purer eyes than to bear to have you in his sight; you are ten thousand times more abominable in his eyes, than the most hateful venomous serpent is in ours. 

Wrath and God’s offense at sin and sinners is much discarded in the face of love and roses and our worth and lovableness, as many teach today (especially female ‘Bible teachers’). But we must understand the sinfulness of sin, God’s hate toward sin, and our precarious state as an unbeliever. Edwards made that vividly plain to the listeners that day in 1741.

In fact, they were so struck, they kept crying out in spiritual agony, pitching themselves toward the altar asking piteously “What shall we do to be saved?” Eventually the cries and mayhem were such that Edwards had to stop preaching, and pastors went down the aisles to pray with people and talk of salvation.

Though Edwards is famous for his focus on hell in that particular sermon, his voluminous works contained much more focus on heaven. For example, he is known for his book Heaven, a World of Love.

If you are unfamiliar with Jonathan Edwards, he is a good one to look up. His works are edifying and challenging, not to mention noteworthy. His contribution to the faith stands as monumental, 300 years after his passing into glory.

Further Resources

Meet the Puritans: Jonathan Edwards, by Joel Beeke (essay)

Jonathan Edwards: Author Bio by Banner of Truth (essay)

Marriage to a Difficult Man: The Uncommon Union of Jonathan & Sarah Edwards by Elisabeth D. Dodds (book)

Jonathan Edwards: Teaching series Stephen Nichols (6 videos) I enjoyed this course on Edwards. The first message is free. The rest are behind a paywall. I recommend it though, it’s an easy way to learn about the man, and so interesting.

Resolutions with Jonathan Edwards, 5 Minutes in Church History with Stephen Nichols. Take a listen, it’s only 5 minutes!