EL OLAM – “The Everlasting God” (Gen 21v33)

 

abraham3.gif

Abraham had grown old, he had weathered the storms of life. He had journeyed, pitched his tent, upped camp and journeyed again. He had come from Ur, travelled across the Euphrates flood-plains until he entered the land of Canaan, then he had compassed the land of promise, Canaan from north to south. In times of failure he had dwelt in Egypt and Philistia, but he had returned to tent and altar, to Bethel and Hebron. God had promised Him a son and then given Him his promised son 25 years later. It had been a hard journey, but he had learned so much about his God.

He knew he was a God of Splendour, for “the God of glory” had appeared unto Him right at the beginning of the journey (Acts 7v2). He learned from Melchizedek that he was a God of absolute Supremacy “the Most High God” (EL ELYON)”. He understood no doubt, through Hagar, that he was EL ROI, a God of Seeing, who saw and met the need of the outcast. His God revealed Himself as the God of Sufficiency (EL SHADDAI), able to fulfil his promises completely by himself. Now, as he reflects on life he understands that he has come to know a God of Stability – EL OLAM, the Everlasting God.

Yes, his life had been full of ‘flitting’ here and there, it had been full of trials and tough decisions, it had had its ups and downs, but God had been there through it all! The Everlasting God – nothing could decay His love or dilute His promises, He was the great Rock of Abraham’s life. He had fulfilled His promises to him.

A grasp of this God is what we need in 2012. The new year comes with its unexpected tomorrow: the journey of life for us might hold unexpected twists and turns this year, but one thing is absolutely sure our God, the Everlasting God, is with us in it and is waiting for us at the end of it.

Never fear Christian, the “Everlasting Hills” beckon us, an “Everlasting Kingdom” awaits (Ps 145), His mercy is from everlasting to everlasting (Ps 103), In Him lies “everlasting strength” (Isaiah 26v4) and “underneath are the everlasting arms” (Jer 31v3).

How wonderful it is to know EL OLAM.

 

 

“Tell it not in Gath…”

harp

There came a day in David’s illustrious life when he wrote a song that he had no joy in singing!  It was really a lament called the “Song of the Bow” and this composition eventually made it into the “Book of Jasher”, no longer extant. (2 Samuel 1:19-27)

David’s great enemy Saul, and his son Jonathan had fallen in battle to the Philistines and David’s heart wept for them. In this he certainly embodied the truth of Proverbs 24:17, “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles” (ESV).

Someone has put it like this. “To hate those who love you is Satanic, and to love those who love you is Human, but to love those who hate you is Divine”

David takes up the lament:

“Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places! How the mighty have fallen! Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult… How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished!”

How sad it is when the enemies of God’s people can look among us and see defeat and failure in our midst! This was true in Corinth, “It is actually (or commonly) reported that there is fornication among you… and such fornication as is not even among the Gentiles” (1 Cor 5:1).  This brought great shame on the testimony. When we walk before the Lord may we be careful to remember our testimony before the world – they are watching. What a shame it is when you hear people say “he calls himself a Christian but…”!

From this dirge we learn:

1.      A lesson about Pleasure: “Do not rejoice when your enemy falls…” Proverbs 24:17.
2.      A lesson about Publishing: “Tell it not in Gath, publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon.
3.      A lesson about Pride: “How the mighty have fallen… How the mighty have fallen and the weapons of war perished”

 

I am the LORD, I change not…

What a statement! What a truth!

 “I am the LORD, I change not…” (Malachi 3v6)

This thought has comforted believers down through the centuries of time. The great Jehovah, the I AM – eternal, dependable and reliable. Never has there been a need for him to change His thoughts, update His views or revise His opinions. His purpose is unwavering and steadfast, His promise is unfailing and His character is unchanging!

I change, HE changes not,
The Christ can never die,
His love, not mine the resting place,
His truth, not mine the tie” – – Horatius Bonar

The question might be asked, how is God unchanging? Surely the Bible speaks at times of God “repenting” or “relenting”? Is this him changing?

The answer is profound and yet simple. When the Bible tells us about God being “unchanging” it is meaning that he always is consistant with His character. If God says that he will judge you because of your sins, it is because He is acting according to his righteous chacter – God punishes sin!  if God then forgives you upon your repentance, it might appear to you that God has repented (humanly speaking), he has changed his mind, but He is just acting consistantly with His Mercy and Love, praise God he doesn’t jettison his righteousness either, because the blood of Christ answers all his claims.

therm

Some have illustrated this by a Thermometer. It appears to be constantly changing. It is up and then its down, it is then up again! However it is really the surroundings that are changing, the thermometer is consistantly acting in accordance with its inbuild laws and character, it hasn’t changed at all even though it appears to!

This is a great comfort to every Christian. We will never waken up one morning and find that God no longer loves us. He is unchanging, he has pledged Himself to us. Yes, He is immutable. I’m so glad I ever trusted such a God!

The effects of sin…

The Last Supper

 “When Leonardo da Vinci was painting his masterpiece, ‘The Last Supper’, he sought long for a model for his Christ. At last he located a chorister in one of the churches of Rome who was lovely in life and features, a young man named Pietro Bandinelli.

Years passed, and the painting was still unfinished. All the disciples had been portrayed save one – Judas Iscariot. Now he set out to find a man whose face was hardened and distorted by sin – and at last he found a beggar on the streets of Rome with a face so villainous he shuddered when he looked at him. He hired the man to sit for him as he painted the face of Judas on his canvas. When he was about to dismiss the man, he said, ‘I have not yet found out your name.’ ‘I am Pietro Bandinelli,’ he replied, ‘I also sat for you as your model of Christ.’

The sinful life of years so disfigured the once fair face of the young man that it now looked as though it were the most villainous face in all Rome! Sin degrades! Sin debases!

— Indian Christian

(1200 Notes, Quotes and Anacdotes – A. Naismith)

She has chosen the world…

Robert M. M’Cheyne

Robert Murray M’Cheyne was no doubt one of the greatest servants of God Scotland has ever seen. He died at the age of 29. One of his often repeated statements was “live so as to be missed” – he exemplified this. He was a man of godliness and prayer.

He was informed that a young relative had rejected Christ and said that “she was determined to keep by the world” – he penned the following lines on her decision. It brings a challenge to us all in 2011!

She has chosen the world,
And its paltry crowd, –
She has chosen the world,
And an endless shroud!
She has chosen the world,
With its misnamed pleasures:
She has chosen the world,
Before heaven’s own treasures.

She has launched her boat
On life’s giddy sea,
And her all is afloat
For eternity.
But Bethlehem’s star
Is not in her view:
And her aim is far
From the harbour true.

When the storm descends
From an angry sky,
Ah! where from the winds
Shall the vessel fly?
When stars are concealed,
And the rudder gone,
And heaven is sealed
To the wandering one!

For the human heart
Can never conceive
What joys are the part
Of them that believe
Nor can justly think
Of the cup of death
Which all must drink
Who despise the faith

Away then – oh, fly
From the joys of earth!
Her smile is a lie –
There’s a sting in her mirth
Come, leave the dreams
Of this transient night,
And bask in the beams
Of an endless night.

(Full Poem to be found in “The life of Robert Murray M’Cheyne”) – Andrew Bonar

It was battered and scarred… Just like us!

mh900382756.JPG  
'Twas battered and scarred, and the auctioneer
       Thought it scarcely worth his while
To waste much time on the old violin,
       But held it up with a smile.
"What am I bidden, good folks," he cried,
     "Who'll start the bidding for me?"
"A dollar, a dollar. Then two! Only two?
      Two dollars, and who'll make it three?"
      

"Three dollars, once; three dollars, twice;
      Going for three..." But no,
From the room, far back, a grey-haired man
      Came forward and picked up the bow;
Then wiping the dust from the old violin,
      And tightening the loosened strings,
He played a melody pure and sweet,
      As a caroling angel sings.
      

The music ceased, and the auctioneer,
      With a voice that was quiet and low,
Said: "What am I bid for the old violin?"
      And he held it up with the bow.
"A thousand dollars, and who'll make it two?
      Two thousand! And who'll make it three?
Three thousand, once; three thousand, twice,
     And going and gone," said he.
      

The people cheered, but some of them cried,
     "We do not quite understand.
What changed its worth?" Swift came the reply:
     "The touch of the Master's hand."
And many a man with life out of tune,
      And battered and scarred with sin,
Is auctioned cheap to the thoughtless crowd
      Much like the old violin.
      

A "mess of pottage," a glass of wine,
     A game -- and he travels on.
He is "going" once, and "going" twice,
    He's "going" and almost "gone."
But the Master comes, and the foolish crowd
     Never can quite understand
The worth of a soul and the change that is wrought
     By the touch of the Master's hand.
      


Myra Brooks Welch
 
How true was that with us? 
Perhaps there are some people reading 
this blog who don't really know the Saviour. 
He can change your life if you let Him. 
Turn from your sin and trust the Saviour today, 
He died for you and rose again.

“Zoar”

I was listening recently to the life of Abraham and Lot from Genesis (recommended buying from ITunes if you have an Ipod – buy an audio bible!) and I stumbled across Zoar (Heb. meaning “Little” or “Smallness”), what a tragedy it really was for Lot. Read Gen 13.

Zoar

You’ll remember how Lot got a taste for the well-watered plains that reminded him of Egypt, so when he saw the Jordan Valley in bloom, he forgot about his pilgrim character, didn’t take into account the dangers of Sodom and pitched his tent in that direction. He saw it as a lost paradise (the garden of the Lord),  like Egypt, – he saw Zoar. It was small, seemingly insignificant, just a little city.

The path of Faith for the Christian today involves having a pilgrim character, we are “away from home” (Strangers) but we are “going home” (Pilgrims) (see 1 Peter). We are surrounded by the attractions and allurements of the world which would try to suck us in and stop us making progress for God.

The world system can be like UR (where Abraham left) it was full of the splendour of man-made religions and especially IDOLATRY. Abraham one day saw the God of Glory, He heard His word and trusted Him and left UR forever. If we have trusted the Lord Jesus truly as our Saviour, we should have left the idols of the world forever. May God help us to. Let’s give the Lord the place He deserves in our hearts.

The world system can be like EGYPT – the thing about Egypt was it’s boasted INDEPENDENCE, it had it’s own river, the Nile, it wasn’t reliant (or so it thought!) on the rains of heaven, it’s Pharoah could say “Who is the LORD?” – it’s just like the present world psychi which says “I don’t need God, thank you very much – I can live in independence of God”.

The world system can by like SODOM – the main thing about Sodom was it’s IMMORALITY, of course. The world is getting worse and worse like this, just calling for the judgement of God. Lot ended up here in Sodom, entangled in Sodom. He never approved it’s practices but he was in the middle of it none the less.  

How did he get there?

And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar. 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other. 12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom. 13 But the men of Sodom were exceedingly wicked and sinful against the LORD.” Gen 13v10-13 NKJV

 He saw the business sense of moving towards the cities of the plain but he forgot the dangers, for they were full of wicked men. We like to be close enough to the world to be able to do well in it but not really fall in with it. Lot wanted his paradise here. He was looking at it all wrong. If we, as Christians, live for a while in independance of God, we will eventually find many things attractive that God hates.

But what is Zoar to do with all this. Read on in the story, through ch 19. Zoar was just little. It pictures what we often find in our own hearts – we often don’t want the sin of Sodom, but we want a little bit of the world, just a little bit that is attractive to us! But that little bit sucks us in and ruins our usefulness for God.

Ask yourself, “What is the Zoar in my life?” – what little part of the world, seemingly so harmless, actually hinders you as a Christian. – Be careful with it – avoid it at all cost – be like Abraham, advancing to the heights of Hebron – enjoying God because he was prepared to let God chose his pathway.
 

Him…for me!

One of the most tremendous truths of Christianity – is this truth “The Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for Me” (Galatians 2v20). Every Christian at some time surely, has revelled in this stellar truth. He took my place, He died for Me.

 No religion offers anything like this, this truth comes straight from the heart of God – to us. Do we want to know if God loves us? Let’s remember “Him – for me”!  Nothing could be more certain. God’s love is in public view, the cost was the blood of His own Son!

 Do we want to know if Christ is for us? Let’s remember “Him – for me”. We came in all our wretched nothingness to Christ. We didn’t bring him our success, our endeavours – we came with empty hands and yet, yet we discovered “He loved me, so much that He died for me” – yes, Christ is for us – He died for us, He lives in Heaven for us and one day He will come again for us and He will rest in His love forever, with His blood bought Bride, the Church.  

“O Jesus Lord, Who loved us like to Thee?
Fruit of Thy work, with Thee, too, there to see
Thy glory, Lord, while endless ages roll,
Thy saints the prize and travail of Thy soul” J N Darby

May God, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, grant us that we will worship Him with a true heart, praise Him as He ought to be praised and love Him, in our measure, as He has loved us! Amen.

A trembling soul, I sought the Lord,
My sin confessed, my guilt deplored;
How soft and sweet His word to me:
“I took thy place and died for thee.”

Refrain:
No other hope, no other plea:
He took my place and died for me.
O precious Lamb of Calvary!
He took my place and died for me.

Here rests my heart; assurance sweet,
His blessed work He will complete,
Since in His love so great and free
He took my place and died for me.

When sorrow veils the smiling day,
When evil foes beset my way,
Abundant grace in Him I see;
He took my place and died for me.

No room for doubt, no room for fears,
When to my view the cross appears;
My joyful song shall ever be:
He took my place and died for me.

(Eliza E Hewitt 1851-1920)

Review – Working with God through Prayer – D. Edmond Hiebert

Bookfinder picture

If you want to reassess and revitalize your prayer life in a biblical way, I recommend the above book. I found it most helpful. It is the sort of book that can be read a chapter at a time over a few weeks, leaving gaps to chew over what you have learned.

Hiebert is challenging and yet at the same time very scriptural. I found the section on Israel’s war with Amalek especially helpful.

I think the older versions of the book used to specify “intercessory prayer” in the title. This must be kept in mind. Hiebert is not really dealing with worship or thanksgiving – his focus is rather intercession and supplication.

Recommended reading.

I will have to read it again!

ISBN 1579249779

Publisher: Bob Jones University Press