Archive for 'Biblical Theology'

Presence Of God

1 Chronicles 21

My devotions today where in 1 Chronicles 21. This is the story of the aftermath of David’s pride in taking a census of God’s people. As a result of this sin, God made David choose between 3 woes that were not to be poured out upon David alone but upon the Israelites (1Ch 21:11-12). We see here the seriousness of sin and the sovereignty of God over both Satan (1Ch 21:1) and our own sins (2Sa 24:1), yet we—as David—maintain moral responsibility for our own actions (1Ch 21:8). We see also that sacrifice must cost (1Ch 21:24), as religion that costs nothing is worth nothing (Luke 14:26, Luke 14:33, 1Jo 2:15, Luke 5:11). Yet these are not the particular things wherein I worshiped this morning. Instead I saw God in these:

The Fear of God (1Ch 21:20-21,23)

Ornan, who not only paid homage to David but was eager to donate his own property, was not an Israelite but a Jebusite: a people devoted unto destruction (Deu 20:17). Why was he so willing to help the cause of David? Because the fear of the LORD was upon him. He saw God’s sword and this compelled him to hide and to offer up his own property to his rightful enemy all in the name of appeasing such a God as this. Those who have seen God are willing to go to great lengths to assuage him and promote his causes. Would that God’s own people live up to the example set to us in this man. This is what the man acts like who sees Jesus as this man did.

Assuaged Wrath (1Ch 21:26)

Herein is the gospel thinly veiled: In the very time the wrath of God was pouring out upon the people of God as a result of David’s sin, God turned the force of his anger onto the sacrifice instead. So too with us: As a result of Adam’s sin did the anger of the LORD burn upon all (Rom 5:12), yet Christ in our place was consumed by the fire of the LORD that we might be reconciled to God (Rom 5:18). What a God is our God to hide his work for all to see.

Godly Zeal (1Ch 21:30)

Here we see the haste that the fear of God’s wrath put David to. Likewise, Aaron ran to make atonement for the Israelites (Num 16:47). When the wrath of God is the issue, we must make haste. Eternity is at stake. But what of God’s own law? There was one place alone where God permitted sacrifice to be made (Deu 12:13-14, Jos 22:29). Will God set aside his own law at times such as these? We would do well to remember that symbols are subservient to what they symbolize and thus not pit God against his own law. The altar was a symbol of the unity of worship, and that symbol cannot be made into the thing that opposes the worship which David was restoring. David’s altar, like Moses’ serpent (Num 21:8), was not raised in opposition to God’s law but for the fulfilling of it (Mat 5:17).

A Smiling Face (1Ch 22:1)

Here we see God’s smiling face that was hidden by a frowning providence. In the midst of all the woe and destruction God lays the foundation for his temple which will soon hold his glory. The eternal remembrance of this story will not focus on David’s sin nor on God’s wrath, but in God’s great kindness in giving his people a temple unto his own glory and unto their good. As the temple then was inaugurated by David, so now a cornerstone of the Church has been laid. It too was laid in the midst of sin and wrath. Yet those very things provide a backdrop that highlights the great grace of God in saving such as us. We see here God triumphing over all obstacles to save his people. He triumphs over sin. He triumphs over Satan. Never let us say then that anything is worth our faithlessness. These very things that tempt us to doubt will soon be cause for rejoicing—even our own sin.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.

Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust Him for His grace;
Behind a frowning providence
He hides a smiling face.

-William Cowper
 God Moves In A Mysterious Way

Don't Heal Too Lightly

How hard it is not to heal the wounds of those you love and are trying to minister to? Yet often those wounds are the first-fruits of grace. To see a soul in the first fears of the Lord and the first desperate pleadings for God’s help is a wonderful thing. Why do we then—after working so hard and lovingly—cut down the fruit when first we see it? Let grace have its work, strive not against it.

Jeremiah 6:14

14 They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
saying, ‘Peace, peace,’
when there is no peace.

Jeremiah 4:10

10 Then I said, “Ah, Lord God, surely you have utterly deceived this people and Jerusalem, saying, ‘It shall be well with you,’ whereas the sword has reached their very life.”

Jeremiah 5:12

12 They have spoken falsely of the Lord
and have said, ‘He will do nothing;
no disaster will come upon us,
nor shall we see sword or famine.

Jeremiah 23:17

17 They say continually to those who despise the word of the Lord, ‘It shall be well with you’; and to everyone who stubbornly follows his own heart, they say, ‘No disaster shall come upon you.’”

Ezekiel 13:10

10 Precisely because they have misled my people, saying, ‘Peace,’ when there is no peace, and because, when the people build a wall, these prophets smear it with whitewash, (ESV)

The Faith of George Müller

What did the faith of George Müller look like? Here is a story I found browsing around the internet:

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I went to America some years ago with the captain of a steamer, who was a very devoted Christian. When off the coast of Newfoundland he said to me, “The last time I crossed here, five weeks ago, something happened which revolutionized the whole of my Christian life. We had George Müller of Bristol on board. I had been on the bridge twenty-four hours and never left it. George Müller came to me, and said, “Captain I have come to tell you that I must be in Quebec Saturday afternoon.” “It’s impossible,” I said. “Very well, if your ship cannot take me, God will find some other way. I have never broken an engagement in fifty-seven years. Let us go down into the chart-room and pray.”

I looked at that man of God, and thought to myself, what lunatic asylum can that man have come from? I never heard of such a thing as this. “Mr. Müller,” I said, “do you know how dense the fog is?” “No,” he replied, “my eye is not on the density of the fog, but on the living God, who controls every circumstance of my life.”

He knelt down and prayed one of the most simple prayers, and when he had finished I was going to pray; but he put his hand on my shoulder, and told me not to pray. “First, you do not believe He will answer; and second I believe he has, and there is no need whatever for you to pray about it.”

I looked at him, and he said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for fifty-seven years, and there has never been a single day that I have failed to get audience with the King. Get up, Captain and open the door, and you will find the fog gone.” I got up, and the fog was indeed gone. On Saturday afternoon, George Müller was in Quebec for his engagement.

Müller dedicated his life to demonstrating God as faithful. What a tragedy it is that history remembers him as a man of mighty faith. Don’t come away from this story with awe of Müller but let Müller point you towards awe of God. Müller’s great faith did not make him mighty, but Müller’s weak faith showed God mighty. Towards such people as would think of Müller as a mighty man, beyond what is normally possible for God’s people, Müller says this:

I affectionately warn against being led away by the device of Satan, to think that these things are peculiar to me, and cannot be enjoyed by all the children of God; for though, as has been stated before, every believer is not called upon to establish Orphan-Houses, Charity Schools, etc., and trust in the Lord for means, yet all believers are called upon, in the simple confidence of faith, to cast all their burdens upon Him, to trust in him for every thing, and not only to make every thing a subject of prayer, but to expect answers to their petitions which they have asked according to His will, and in the name of the Lord Jesus.— Think not, dear reader, that I have the gift of faith, that is, that gift of which we read in 1 Cor. 12:9, and which is mentioned along with ” the gifts of healing,” “the working of miracles,” “prophecy,” and that on that account I am able to trust in the Lord. It is true that the faith, which I am enabled to exercise, is altogether God’s own gift; it is true that He alone supports it, and that He alone can increase it; it is true that, moment by moment, I depend upon Him for it, and that, if I were only one moment left to myself, my faith would utterly fail; but it is not true that my faith is that gift of faith which is spoken of in 1 Cor. 12:9 …

Once more, let not Satan deceive you in making you think that you could not have the same faith, but that it is only for persons who are situated as I am. When I lose such a thing as a key, I ask the Lord to direct me to it, and I look for an answer to my prayer; when a person with whom I have made an appointment does not come, according to the fixed time, and I begin to be inconvenienced by it, I ask the Lord to be pleased to hasten him to me, and I look for an answer; when I do not understand a passage of the word of God, I lift up my heart to the Lord, that He would be pleased, by His holy Spirit, to instruct me, and I expect to be taught, though I do not fix the time when, and the manner how it should be; when I am going to minister in the Word, I seek help from the Lord, and while I in the consciousness of natural inability as well as utter unworthiness, begin this His service, I am not cast down, but of good cheer, because I look for His assistance, and believe that He, for His dear Son’s sake, will help me. And thus in other of my temporal and spiritual concerns I pray to the Lord, and expect an answer to my requests; and may not you do the same, dear believing reader? Oh! I beseech you, do not think me an extraordinary believer, having privileges above other of God’s dear children, which they cannot have; nor look on my way of acting as something that would not do for other believers. Make but trial! Do but stand still in the hour of trial, and you will see the help of God, if you trust in Him.
-George Müller

When you read and hear about Müller. Know that he was a humble, poor, often full-of-doubt sinner. Yet God used him in mighty ways. Why? Because he opened his mouth. Here is Müller looking back over many years at the start of his endeavors towards the orphans:

It is now 68 years ago that my heart was greatly tried, when again and again I saw dear children losing both parents, and there was no one to take a real deep interest in their well-being.

I felt deeply for such bereaved children, and I said again and again to myself, “O I wish I had a little Orphan institution, into which I could take these children.” But the desire remained for years only a desire, though I had much prayer in connection with it. In the November of the year 1835, a particular circumstance occurred, through the instrumentality of which I was made to know how to be able to do some­thing for destitute orphans, and I began to pray more earnestly than ever I had done before that God would be pleased to guide and direct me whether I should make a beginning of a little Orphan institution. Thus I prayed month after month, and at last I came to the decision that I would do something in this way; and though it might have never so small a beginning, I would make a beginning.

Now, just reading through the whole Bible, I came, at that time, to this 81st Psalm and to this 10th verse, “I am Jehovah thy God, Who brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” When I read this verse, I shut the Bible, went to the door of my room and locked it, and then I cast myself on the floor and began to pray. I said to my Heavenly Father, “I have only asked Thee, Heavenly Father, that Thou shouldest show me whether I shall begin the Orphan work or not. Thou hast been pleased to make that plain to me, and now ‘I will open my mouth wide.’ Be pleased to ‘fill it.’ Give me, my Heavenly Father, a suitable house to begin the work; give me suitable helpers to take care of the children; and give me a thousand pounds sterling to make a beginning.

And in all God has been pleased to give me, simply in answer to prayer, £1,416,000 sterling! One million, four hundred and sixteen thousand pounds sterling, without asking a single human being! !

There is none, in this whole city, who can say that I ever asked them for a penny; there is none, in the whole of England, who can say that I ever asked them for a penny; there is none under heaven, in the whole wide world, who can say that I ever asked them for a penny. To God, and to God alone, I went; and I did this because I knew ever since my conversion that one of the greatest necessities for the Church of God at large was an increase of faith. Therefore, I deter­mined to dedicate my whole life to this one great lesson, for the Church of God to learn, and the world at large to learn: real, true, lasting dependence on God.
-George Müller

George Müller opened his mouth, and God filled it to overflowing. He will do the same to you.