Albert Barnes, Various Comments on Psalm 25

On Affliction and the Remembrance of Our Sins

On Psalm 25:7- Remember not the sins of my youth – In strong contrast with God, the psalmist brings forward his own conduct and life. He could ask of God (Psalm 25:6) to remember His own acts – what “He himself” had done; but could not ask him to remember His conduct – His past life. He could only pray that this might be forgotten. He did not wish it to come into remembrance before God; he could not ask that God would deal with him according to that. He prays, therefore, that he might not be visited as he advanced in life with the fruits of his conduct in early years, but that all the offences of that period of his life might be forgiven and forgotten.

Who is there that cannot with deep feeling join in this prayer? Who is there that has reached the period of middle or advanced life, who would be willing to have the follies of his youth, the plans, and thoughts, and wishes of his early years brought again to remembrance? Who would be willing to have recalled to his own mind, or made known to his friends, to society around him, or to assembled worlds, the thoughts, the purposes, the wishes, the “imaginings” of his youthful days? Who would dare to pray that he might be treated in advancing years as he treated God in his own early life? Nay, who would venture to pray that God would treat him in the day of judgment as he had treated the friends of his childhood, even the father who begat him, or the mother who bore him? Our hope in regard to the favor of God is that he will “not” summon up the thoughts and the purposes of our early years; that he will “not” treat us as if he remembered them; but that he will treat us as if they were forgotten.

On Psalm 25:17- O bring thou me out of my distresses – Alike from my sins, and from the dangers which surround me. These two things, external trouble and the inward consciousness of guilt, are not infrequently combined. Outward trouble has a tendency to bring up the remembrance of past transgressions, and to suggest the inquiry whether the affliction is not a divine visitation for sin. Any one source of sorrow may draw along numerous others in its train. The laws of association are such that when the mind rests on one source of joy, and is made cheerful by that, numerous other blessings will be suggested to increase the joy; and when one great sorrow has taken possession of the soul, all the lesser sorrows of the past life cluster around it, so that we seem to ourselves to be wholly abandoned by God and by man.

On Psalm 25:18- And forgive all my sins – The mind, as above remarked, connects trouble and sin together. When we are afflicted, we naturally inquire whether the affliction is not on account of some particular transgressions of which we have been guilty; and even when we cannot trace any direct connection with sin, affliction suggests the general fact that we are sinners, and that all our troubles are originated by that fact. One of the benefits of affliction, therefore, is to call to our remembrance our sins, and to keep before the mind the fact that we are violators of the law of God. This connection between suffering and sin, in the sense that the one naturally suggests the other, was more than once illustrated in the miracles performed by the Saviour. (See Matt 9:2)

How Deadly is the Covid19 Virus?

There is much talk of the mortality rate of the covid19 virus. It is said that it is much lower than what was expected. But how can anyone even know what the mortality rate is? Until every case – not just the cases that have been confirmed already, but also those that will be confirmed in the future – have resolved into either “ recovered” or “deceased”, no one knows what the mortality rate is.

To be blunt, what we all really want to know is what our chances of dying are if we get the disease. Since we want to put a number on it, we have to work from the numerical data that we have. Accordingly, we are calculating the ratio of people who die from the disease to those who contract it. But this is wrong. The true way to calculate the rate is to divide the final number of fatalities by the final number of cases. We cannot do that yet because we do not have the data.

People are now dividing the number of fatalities by the number of confirmed active cases and getting low percentages. But there are far more people who still have the disease than there are who are recovered and those that have died put together. These cases will in time be resolved; and until they have been, we do not have the basis to calculate a mortality rate.

If we use the numbers we have, this method yields a ratio of .017 or 1.7 % for the US and 6.2% for the world; reassuring perhaps, at least for Americans, but totally misleading.

A better way to judge the deadliness of the disease is to compare the number of recoveries to the number of fatalities. As of Saturday morning, in the US, 2,465 people who have had the disease have recovered; while there are 1,706 who have died from it. That’s 1.44 recoveries for each death. Put another way, for every 100 people who recover, 69 can be expected to die.

The ratio for the global cases is better – 132,440 recovered versus 26,909 fatalities. That works out to 4.92 recoveries for each fatality or 20 deaths for each 100 recoveries.

Since China is suspected of under-reporting deaths and inflating the number of recoveries, these numbers may be significantly inaccurate. China claims to have had 74,971 recoveries versus 3,295 deaths. That’s 2,280 recoveries for each death, or only 4.4 deaths for each 100 who recover. I for one don’t believe it.

China watchers tell us that any or all of these numbers could be off by a factor of ten. For this reason, the true global ratio is probably nearer to that of the US.

This approach to estimating the deadliness of the disease is not infallible.  But it is accurate enough to give us a truer picture than the one propagated by the media.

So, is the covid19 virus deadly? Don’t trust the propagandists, or the governmental bodies that want to avoid causing a panic. Judge for yourself.

Howard Douglas King

March 28, Year of our Lord 2020

Some Thoughts on Masculinity and Femininity

When we get beyond the many obvious physical differences between the sexes, and consider what is different about them internally, we know instinctively that there is something called “femininity” in women and “masculinity” in men. We may be tempted to think of these as two traits that explain the fundamental differences in male and female personalities. We may express these differences by saying, for example, “men are more rational and women are more emotional” or “Man is strength, and woman is beauty”. There is some truth in both of these maxims; but the whole truth is more complicated.

Neither are masculinity and femininity single traits, or even patterns of behavior. They involve perceptions, attitudes, inclinations, emotions, reactions that are partly products of their physical differences, and partly qualities that fit them for their respective callings. Rather, it is the whole personality type that differs between the sexes. A boy naturally develops a male personality type because he was born a male; and because he admires his father, and wants to be like him. This begins when he starts copying his father’s actions and words. He is not just playing when he uses a toy workbench and tools that his father gave him; he is becoming a man. The same is true of the female.

Because so much of the upbringing of children depends upon the behavior that they observe every day in the home; it is essential that both parents accept and act out the sex roles that God has assigned to each. It is also important that girls spend most of their time with their mothers and other women, in the home, learning the duties of a wife, mother and homemaker.  Boys should ideally (as they do in agricultural communities) spend most of their time with their fathers and other men, learning how men act and think and interact with each other, and also being trained to do the work their fathers do.

There must be different emphases in the training of boys and girls. For this reason (and others) schools should be segregated by sex. Girls must learn serenity, modesty, unselfishness and humility. These qualities are indispensable in a woman. They are the various facets of inner beauty. Boys must learn to be responsible, honest, courageous and diligent. These together form an inner strength. Children with these qualities (which can be developed early on) grow up to be persons of worth, capable of fulfilling their God given roles. They will also be attractive mates to the opposite sex, irrespective of their outward appearances.

But the differences between the sexes are not the only things that must be taken into account in the rearing of children. The Bible does not usually differentiate when it teaches the Christian virtues and way of life; because men and women are more alike than they are different.

If there is a single word that is descriptive of masculinity, it is this: men are workers. They are goal-oriented; and they are frustrated if they cannot see progress in their work. They are willing to work hard and make sacrifices if they can only achieve their goals. They tend to be easily bored with repetitive tasks that give them no sense of accomplishment.

Women, on the other hand, are nurturers. They care about needs, rather than goals. The endless round of unexciting tasks involved in being a homemaker, especially the care of young children, may wear her out; but they do not drive her crazy, as they would a man. She nurtures a vegetable garden, or a flower bed, or a tree just as truly as she does a child or an animal. A man would rather till and fence a garden plot, which gives him a sense of achievement; and then leave the daily care (other than the heavy work) to her.  This is not selfishness on his part, or a weak slavishness on hers: it is just the way we were made to be; complementary members of a family.  Each is made according to a master plan, by which he or she provides the strengths that the other lacks, so that each finds completeness in the other.

This is not to say that men are incapable of nurture, or that women never work with a goal in mind; only that there are these opposite tendencies which develop their personalities – naturally and predictably – in different directions.

The man who is conspicuously masculine and the woman who manifests a natural femininity will not only be appealing to others of both sexes; but they will be well able to fulfill their biblical, traditional sex roles, and find fulfillment in them.

Howard Douglas King

March 5, 2019

The Blunders of Kings

 

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The two parts of the book of the Kings document the fall of Israel from its highest point to the very depths. It opens with the ascent of Solomon, the son of David, to the throne of all Israel, and describes in detail the main events of his reign; during which the kingdom of Israel reached its highest development, its greatest territorial extent, and the pinnacle of riches, power, and national glory in the ancient world.

Solomon built the temple that his father had envisioned, planned and provisioned – an extraordinary edifice that would become known as one of the seven wonders of the world. His own palace, also described in these pages, was likewise famous. Solomon had everything, and did everything. He was a wise and just judge, an architect and builder, a natural scientist, a political strategist, a philosopher, a poet, a prophet, a master of agriculture and animal husbandry. God blessed him with an immeasurable abundance of talent and wealth.

Yet for all this, he was a man, a sinner. He succumbed to the temptations of his position, indulging himself with an enormous harem, among whom were many infidel women and idolaters – in direct disobedience to the law of God. These evil women seduced him to the building of Pagan temples in Jerusalem and the public worship of false gods; and brought on him the destruction of his kingdom. No one, no matter how favored by God, is immune to his discipline.

But king Solomon loved many strange women, together with the daughter of Pharaoh, women of the Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Zidonians, and Hittites; Of the nations concerning which the LORD said unto the children of Israel, Ye shall not go in to them, neither shall they come in unto you: for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods: Solomon clave unto these in love. And he had seven hundred wives, princesses, and three hundred concubines: and his wives turned away his heart.

For it came to pass, when Solomon was old, that his wives turned away his heart after other gods: and his heart was not perfect with the LORD his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. And Solomon did evil in the sight of the LORD, and went not fully after the LORD, as did David his father. Then did Solomon build an high place for Chemosh, the abomination of Moab, in the hill that is before Jerusalem, and for Molech, the abomination of the children of Ammon. And likewise did he for all his strange wives, which burnt incense and sacrificed unto their gods.

And the LORD was angry with Solomon, because his heart was turned from the LORD God of Israel, which had appeared unto him twice, And had commanded him concerning this thing, that he should not go after other gods: but he kept not that which the LORD commanded. Wherefore the LORD said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father’s sake: but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away all the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake which I have chosen. (1 Kings 11:1-13)

The Lord also sent a prophet named Ahijah to a man called Jeroboam.

And it came to pass at that time when Jeroboam went out of Jerusalem, that the prophet Ahijah the Shilonite found him in the way; and he had clad himself with a new garment; and they two were alone in the field: And Ahijah caught the new garment that was on him, and rent it in twelve pieces: And he said to Jeroboam, Take thee ten pieces: for thus saith the LORD, the God of Israel, Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee: (But he shall have one tribe for my servant David’s sake, and for Jerusalem’s sake, the city which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel:) Because that they have forsaken me, and have worshipped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Zidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Milcom the god of the children of Ammon, and have not walked in my ways, to do that which is right in mine eyes, and to keep my statutes and my judgments, as did David his father.

Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand: but I will make him prince all the days of his life for David my servant’s sake, whom I chose, because he kept my commandments and my statutes: But I will take the kingdom out of his son’s hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there.

And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.” (1 Kings 11:29-38)

Solomon’s son and heir, Rehoboam, ascended the throne when Solomon died. But he immediately shot himself in the foot, and lost the kingdom committed to him. This is explained as the fulfillment of the predicted judgment on his father. In fact, his father was responsible for alienating the man who would take the ten tribes away from him as well. Jeroboam rose suddenly to the kingship of Israel, leaving only Judah, and the diminished tribe of Benjamin to David’s dynasty.

And Rehoboam went to Shechem: for all Israel were come to Shechem to make him king. And it came to pass, when Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who was yet in Egypt, heard of it, (for he was fled from the presence of king Solomon, and Jeroboam dwelt in Egypt;) That they sent and called him. And Jeroboam and all the congregation of Israel came, and spake unto Rehoboam, saying, Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee.

…And the king answered the people roughly, and forsook the old men’s counsel that they gave him; And spake to them after the counsel of the young men, saying, My father made your yoke heavy, and I will add to your yoke: my father also chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions. Wherefore the king hearkened not unto the people; for the cause was from the LORD, that he might perform his saying, which the LORD spake by Ahijah the Shilonite unto Jeroboam the son of Nebat.

So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them. Then king Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the tribute; and all Israel stoned him with stones, that he died. Therefore king Rehoboam made speed to get him up to his chariot, to flee to Jerusalem. So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day.” (1 Kings 12:1-4, 13-19)

But what did Jeroboam do? Did he learn from the mistakes of these two kings? Not much, it seems! Immediately, he corrupts the worship of God by building unauthorized altars and two golden calves to worship, thinking thereby to protect his new kingdom from the risk of eventual reunification with Judah! God has given him this kingdom, yet he immediately insults God and breaks the most fundamental law – the very law that Solomon broke to the loss of the kingdom – in the vain hope of preserving his place. This in spite of the fact that the same God who gave him the kingdom promised to sustain him in it if he would be obedient!

And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel. And it shall be, if thou wilt hearken unto all that I command thee, and wilt walk in my ways, and do that is right in my sight, to keep my statutes and my commandments, as David my servant did; that I will be with thee, and build thee a sure house, as I built for David, and will give Israel unto thee.”(I Kings 11:37-38). Thus he earned the name of infamy that recurs in the Scriptural record: ”Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin”.

And Jeroboam said in his heart, Now shall the kingdom return to the house of David: If this people go up to do sacrifice in the house of the LORD at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them, It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan. And this thing became a sin: for the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan.

And he made an house of high places, and made priests of the lowest of the people, which were not of the sons of Levi. And Jeroboam ordained a feast in the eighth month, on the fifteenth day of the month, like unto the feast that is in Judah, and he offered upon the altar. So did he in Bethel, sacrificing unto the calves that he had made: and he placed in Bethel the priests of the high places which he had made. So he offered upon the altar which he had made in Bethel the fifteenth day of the eighth month, even in the month which he had devised of his own heart; and ordained a feast unto the children of Israel: and he offered upon the altar, and burnt incense.” (1 Kings 12:26-33)

The judgment on Jeroboam was not long delayed. He died just 22 years after rising to the throne, and his son was murdered two years later, along with all his house.

And the days which Jeroboam reigned were two and twenty years: and he slept with his fathers, and Nadab his son reigned in his stead.” (1Ki 14:20)

And Nadab the son of Jeroboam began to reign over Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and reigned over Israel two years. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin wherewith he made Israel to sin.

And Baasha the son of Ahijah, of the house of Issachar, conspired against him; and Baasha smote him at Gibbethon, which belonged to the Philistines; for Nadab and all Israel laid siege to Gibbethon. Even in the third year of Asa king of Judah did Baasha slay him, and reigned in his stead. And it came to pass, when he reigned, that he smote all the house of Jeroboam; he left not to Jeroboam any that breathed, until he had destroyed him, according unto the saying of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Ahijah the Shilonite: Because of the sins of Jeroboam which he sinned, and which he made Israel sin, by his provocation wherewith he provoked the LORD God of Israel to anger.” (1 Kings 15:25-30)

David declares that nations and kings are not above the law of God, and that the Messiah will be their king. Here is his solemn warning:

Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” (Psalms 2:10-12)

NOTES:

1) The fact that the tribe of Benjamin was treated as one tribe with Judah may be accounted for by revisiting its history. The tribe of Benjamin was once fairly large and powerful, and boasted many great warriors. But after the division of the land under Joshua, during the time of the Judges, Benjamin committed an egregious error in the matter of the Levite’s concubine, by taking the part of the wicked sodomites that dwelt in their city of Gibeah, who were her murderers, and refusing to surrender them to justice. The other tribes of Israel united and defeated Benjamin in battle, and nearly destroyed the tribe altogether. Only six hundred Benjamite warriors were left. This is documented in the book of Judges, chapters 19-21.

2) The division of Israel into two kingdoms also had its roots in history. Saul was king over all Israel, but when he died, only Judah recognized David as the true king of Israel. Saul was a Benjamite, after all; and the ten tribes supported Saul’s house in a seven-year civil war that led to the eventual triumph of David and Judah, with the unification of the nation, and the establishment of a capital city in Jerusalem. Naturally, Benjamin, which was not a large tribe in the first place, suffered much loss in that war. With the kingship passing to David, Benjamin lost most of its influence with its defeat. But the ten tribes had fought against the house of David, and now, less than a century later, the old grudge was revived, so they were ready to say to Rehoboam, “What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David.” (1 Kings 12:16)

3) When Ahijah tore the garment into 12 pieces, and gave 10 to Jeroboam, two pieces were left. These represented Judah and Benjamin. But Levi, one of the ten, was insulted and cut off from their calling and livelihood by Jeroboam. So they also became concentrated in the southern kingdom. And many others deserted Jeroboam because of his corruption of the religion of Israel:

And Rehoboam dwelt in Jerusalem, and built cities for defence in Judah. He built even Bethlehem, and Etam, and Tekoa, And Bethzur, and Shoco, and Adullam, And Gath, and Mareshah, and Ziph, And Adoraim, and Lachish, and Azekah, And Zorah, and Aijalon, and Hebron, which are in Judah and in Benjamin fenced cities. And he fortified the strong holds, and put captains in them, and store of victual, and of oil and wine. And in every several city he put shields and spears, and made them exceeding strong, having Judah and Benjamin on his side.

And the priests and the Levites that were in all Israel resorted to him out of all their coasts. For the Levites left their suburbs and their possession, and came to Judah and Jerusalem: for Jeroboam and his sons had cast them off from executing the priest’s office unto the LORD: And he ordained him priests for the high places, and for the devils, and for the calves which he had made. And after them out of all the tribes of Israel such as set their hearts to seek the LORD God of Israel came to Jerusalem, to sacrifice unto the LORD God of their fathers.” (2 Chronicles 11:5-16)

4) Israel was carried away by the Assyrians a century before Judah was taken captive to Babylon. Few of them returned to the land of Israel when Cyrus’ decree of release was published; so the “Israel” that was in the land after that was mainly composed of Judeans, Benjamites and Levites who returned to their own capital city and the surrounding country. They came to be called “Jews” at this time.

Howard Douglas King, February 15, 2020

 

Essential Elements Of A Consistently Christian World-view

For any worldview to be considered Christian at all, it must be grounded on the written Word of God, and the revelation of the glorious person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. But a Christian’s worldview may be inconsistent — that is, it may contain elements that are inconsistent with each other. Most of us have ideas that we have acquired during our up-bringing, that cannot be reconciled with the Bible or with Christian doctrine.

The following are some elements of biblical teaching and the teaching of historic Christianity that have often been excluded from the thinking of modern Christians because of foreign ideas that are already deeply implanted before conversion, or because they are the unspoken axioms of contemporary society. These concepts must be rooted out, and replaced by biblical concepts.

The Necessity of Authority and Subordination

The master/servant relationship is inescapable, for it is essential to cooperation and coordination of effort in any task. In the very first relationship – that of man to God, this relation necessarily obtains. The second relationship – that of man to wife – is one of authority and subordination. In the third basic relationship – that of parent to child – the inequality is even more conspicuous and necessary. The fourth basic relationship – that of master and servant – is just an extension of the authority of the father beyond the natural family to another dependent person. All other relationships in a Christian society are based on and patterned on these family relationships.

Involuntary servitude has not really been abolished – except in the household, where alone its harshest features can be ameliorated by caring, durable personal relationships. It is just limited now to impersonal secular institutions; such as prisons, armies, schools, and to a lesser extent, the workplace. Only the authority of the husband, father, and householder has been destroyed.

The Theocratic Principle

Every man and every human institution is and ought to be under the rule of God, period. He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God, who is the King of all kings, and the Lord of all lords.

Secularity is Not Normal

We have come to regard secular institutions and enterprises as normal; but God regards every one as insubordinate to Him, as little rebellions, as outposts of the Devil. Every institution ought to acknowledge God and serve Him.

You have the Wrong Universe

Every non-biblical worldview is not only dangerous to the souls of its adherents; but is out of touch with the most fundamental and vital realities. Christianity is not an ideology – it is the truth. If we refuse to accept the truth, it will not prevent our having to deal with it eventually. The man who jumps off a building because he believes he can fly will hit the ground hard.

Damnable Ignorance

The typical American not only does not know what he is doing; but he knows not whence he came, nor why he was made, nor what he ought to do, or where he is going. He ought to know these things. There is no barrier to his knowing these things. So, while it sounds harsh, his ignorance is damnable sin.

Unity, Diversity, and Commonality

Unity of purpose and cooperation in common action are consistent with diversity; so long as that purpose arises from ideals that are sincerely held in common by all. One King – one Law – one people.

 

Howard Douglas King

August 5, 2015

Revised April 1, 2017

The Limits of Literal Interpretation

The general principle of the literal interpretation of Scripture, which we (with all Protestants) heartily endorse, chiefly applies to historical narrative. The prophetic passages of Scripture, as well as the poetic book of psalms, often contain figurative language. This is a native feature of poetry, and a common one in prophecy. This fact has been the occasion of many differences of opinion on the interpretation of prophecy.

The general rule of literal interpretation, therefore, does not require us to interpret every word of Scripture in a literal sense. Indeed, to attempt to do so would often result in nonsense; and many times it would bring Scripture into conflict with Scripture. The correct method is to follow the Scripture’s own indications as to when it speaks in strict literalness, and when not. This is an aspect of the vital principle that Scripture interprets itself, which is equally as fundamental as that of literal interpretation.

The gospels are literal historical records of the words and deeds of Jesus. But within this is the literal record of Jesus’ sayings, in which there are very many times that He either uses figurative language, or interprets the Scriptures in a non-literal manner. This is the reason that His disciples so often did not understand Him.

As a case in point, here is a prophecy from the Old Testament:

Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse. (Malachi 4:5-6)

And here is the non-literal New Testament fulfillment, according to the angel Gabriel:

And many of the children of Israel shall he [John the Baptist] turn to the Lord their God. And he [John] shall go before him [Jesus] in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just; to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Luke 1:16-17)

And according to Jesus Christ:

Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. And if ye will receive it, this is Elijah, which was for to come. He that hath ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:11-15)

And his disciples asked him, saying, Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come? And Jesus answered and said unto them, Elijah truly shall first come, and restore all things. But I say unto you, That Elijah is come already, and they knew him not, but have done unto him whatsoever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them. Then the disciples understood that he spake unto them of John the Baptist.“ (Matthew 17:10-13)

And they asked him, saying, Why say the scribes that Elijah must first come? And he answered and told them, Elijah verily cometh first, and restoreth all things; and how it is written of the Son of man, that he must suffer many things, and be set at naught. But I say unto you, That Elijah is indeed come, and they have done unto him whatsoever they listed, as it is written of him.” (Mark 9:11-13)

It is probable that most Israelites prior to the coming of John the Baptist interpreted the prophecy of Elijah’s coming literally, and we cannot condemn them for doing so. But this is a plain instance of literal interpretation leading to an erroneous conclusion. The scribes, observing that Elijah the Tishbite had not yet appeared on the scene, thought they had an unanswerable argument against Jesus’ claim to Messiahship!

It would be wrong to demand an additional, literal fulfillment of this prophecy in the future (as some nevertheless do) on the mistaken premise that because a literal fulfillment is possible, anything less would be inadequate and contrary to the truthfulness of God. Jesus makes it plain that John is the complete fulfillment of the prophecy when he says, “this is Elijah, which was for to come”.

Besides, the prophecy was for Elijah to come before Messiah appeared. Since Jesus has already come, there is now no opportunity for a completely literal fulfillment. On the other hand, John the Baptist fulfilled the actual terms of the prophecy by his ministry, restoring true religion in Israel in preparation for the coming of the Messiah.

Finally, John was not inferior to Elijah, nor was he a less significant figure in the history of Israel. This second Elijah did no miracle, but he turned back the hearts of the children of Israel to the Lord, as the first one did (1 Kings 8:37-39); and also announced the long-awaited coming of Israel’s redeemer-king! Therefore, in sending John, God did not do less than He would have done, if He had sent the literal Elijah.

But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? Yea, I say unto you, and much more than a prophet. This is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he. (Luke 7:26-28)

By parity of reasoning, when the New Testament declares that the Kingship of Christ is to be exercised from His throne at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:30-36) rather than from an earthly throne in Jerusalem, how can this be viewed as an inadequate fulfillment of the promise to David concerning his seed, when the power and authority of that throne in heaven includes any that David had, and is infinitely greater than that of any earthly throne? It’s as if someone promised his son a hundred dollars upon his graduation from school, and gave him a car worth ten thousand dollars instead! Who would be so mad as to complain that the promise was not fulfilled because it was not fulfilled to the letter?

The Jewish expectation of a literal, visible, earthly kingdom was not only false, but it was a main cause of their rejection of Jesus, for they were only interested in a Messiah who would come and liberate them from the Romans. They did not realize that their greater bondage was to sin and death; and that for this cause they needed most of all a spiritual redeemer. The Bible tells us that they did what they did to Christ because they did not understand the prophets; and yet Dispensationalists today follow the same wrong path!

Men and brethren, children of the stock of Abraham, and whosoever among you feareth God, to you is the word of this salvation sent. For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him.” (Acts 13:26-27)

This error was so ingrained, that even His disciples didn’t “get it” for a long time.

But we trusted that it had been he which should have redeemed Israel: and beside all this, today is the third day since these things were done… Then he [Jesus] said unto them, O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:21-27)

Dispensationalists claim that prophecy is “history written beforehand”, and claim to follow the rule, “literal unless impossible”. The tendency of the Dispensational brand of excessive literalism is to expect a future, literal fulfillment of prophecies that have already been spiritually fulfilled. The result is a complex and bizarre futuristic scenario unlike anything the historic Christian church has ever seen before.

Howard Douglas King

Why the Second Coming of Christ is Our Blessed Hope

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. (Tit 2:11-14)

INTRODUCTION: TITUS’ MISSION

The second chapter of this epistle begins with the charge of the Apostle Paul to Titus, who had been left in Crete with a commission to set the churches in order:

“For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:” (Tit 1:5)

Accordingly, he sets forth in brief the qualifications for elders, closing with these words:

“Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.” (Tit 1:9)

Then he warns Titus that there will be schismatics and false teachers to contend with:

“For there are many unruly and vain talkers and deceivers, specially they of the circumcision:” (Tit 1:10)

He next describes their character, and gives Titus direction in his dealing with them. He is to “rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith”, and to “stop the mouths” of the deceivers by sound doctrine (see 1:9 above).

Finally, he describes the character of these men in the following terms:

“They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” (Tit 1:16)

SOUND DOCTRINE AND SOUND PRACTICE

The division of the epistle into chapters at this point tends to obscure the fact that there is an important continuity between Chapter 1 and chapter 2. For the emphasis on sound doctrine which appears in verses 9, 11, 13, and 16 of chapter 1 recurs in the first verse of chapter 2:

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:” (Tit 2:1)

The chief duties of Titus and the elders he appoints are to teach sound doctrine, and to inculcate the behavior that befits it. The word “become” means “to befit”. “The things which become sound doctrine” means the particulars of behavior that are consistent with the doctrines of Christianity. Call to mind the words of verse 1:16, which close the first chapter: “They profess that they know God; but in works they deny him”. There is an intimate connection between 1:16 and 2:1.

Pursuing this theme of Christian conduct, and by way of illustration, he sets forth a series of particular directions to the several classes of people, consonant with the peculiar social station and circumstances of each grouping. He addresses in turn aged men, aged women, young women, young men, and after an aside to Titus himself (urging him to maintain an exemplary deportment) bond-servants; in a few words exhorting each of them to the principal duties, and urging them to avoid the most common sins, of each class.

TWO ARGUMENTS FOR OBEDIENCE

He then enforces these directions in a long sentence that runs from verse 11 to verse 14, beginning with the following arguments:

11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;”

First, the gospel – the doctrine of the grace of God which had been preached to the Cretians – is far from being a license to sin. Paul contrasts those things that we should reject, “ungodliness and worldly lusts”, with those that we should embrace, ”we should live soberly, righteously, and godly”. This is our duty in this present world (age). Those who think that they can live as they list, and expect to be counted with the saints in heaven have got another think coming. We are going to have to change our lives to accord with the requirements of God’s word. We are going to have to listen to the preaching and submit to it – to obey; or we will never learn to live as the God of grace requires.

The second argument is that “…our Saviour Jesus Christ gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works” (verse 14). God did not forgive us our sins that we might continue in them; but that we might be redeemed from the power of them, and purified or sanctified from them. We are to become a “peculiar” (special) people, whose lives are full of those good works which lead men to glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). The implication is that, if this does not take place in our lives, we prove ourselves to be among the reprobates who “profess that they know God; but in works deny him”.

All of this has been by way of background and establishing context. I hope I have demonstrated the unity of the early part of the epistle.

VERSE 13: ITS CONNECTIONS

Now, “sandwiched” between these two arguments is found the text in my title, which I will now attempt to expound:

13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;

This verse is in the middle of the sentence that begins with verses 11-12 and ends at verse 14. As such, it is connected to verse 12 and verse 14. Both of these connections are important.

The first connection is this:

…we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; looking for that blessed hope

The key word is “looking”. In our day, that requires explanation. But first, let’s see what’s important about the connection. While we are living godly lives in this world (age), we are to be also looking for the appearing of our Savior and the dawn of a new age. Now this is not an additional duty, so much as a powerful encouragement to live a holy life. Suffering is a part of life for all in this sinful world; but Christians are likely to suffer an additional burden – that of persecution. We need to remember that this present evil world will come to an end, and that the temporary suffering we endure here bears no proportion to the eternal glories of the new world.

The word “looking” has nothing to do with gazing heavenward, or looking up every once in a while to see if Christ is there yet. His appearing may be a long way off. But here is the true idea. We should be “looking for” this blessed hope, like a new bride “looking for” her husband who has had to be away from her for a time. The word used here denotes expectancy. The sense is that we are to reach out towards it with our spirits, and to desire to take hold of it. We can’t do this unless we often think about it. The great consolation in the midst of all our trials is to consider that our Lord Himself is coming to perfect our redemption!

This grand expectation should be so much a part of us, that it transforms our lives. It should loosen our grip on all things merely temporal. It should make us careless of what may happen to us: whether we live long or not, whether we prosper in this world or not, whether we suffer or not. The return of our Beloved overshadows all these trivial things in the hearts of those that love Him and long for His appearing.

The second connection is this: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ

The One who is going to “appear” is “the great God”. Jesus Christ is not just a man, or even an angel: He is God incarnate. What could be more significant than His return to earth after so many centuries of His absence?

He is also our Savior, the same one who laid down his life for us, to save us from sin. He is our friend! We should be more than eager to see Him! The eternal redemption which He obtained for us by His life and death will not be completed until He comes.

WHAT IS THE BLESSED HOPE?

Now, to the text itself, and the words “the blessed hope”. The English word “hope” can have at least four distinct meanings: the verb “to hope” can mean “to desire” something future, which may or may not happen. Second, it can mean “to be sure of”. Third, when it is a noun, it can mean “the confidence or assurance that we possess regarding a future event.” And fourth, it can mean “that which we hope for”.

The first thing to notice in our text is that “hope” here means “the thing hoped for”. It can mean nothing else, because none of the other meanings is compatible with the idea of being “looked for”.

Second, while there are commentators who differ, the consensus is that this “blessed hope” is the same thing as the “glorious appearing” of our Lord Jesus Christ. Admittedly, the Greek text may be interpreted in such a way that these are two different things. Adam Clarke, for example, says ”Some think that the blessed hope and glorious appearing mean the same thing; but I do not think so. The blessed hope refers simply to eternal glorification in general; the glorious appearing, to the resurrection of the body;” but notice that he offers no evidence or argument in support of his opinion. Isn’t it curious that Clarke finds in the words “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” only a reference to the resurrection?

Notice that the phrase, “The blessed hope” is not self-defining. It could mean “ eternal glorification in general” or the resurrection, which is expressly called our “hope” in the book of Acts. (23:6; 24:14) If Paul had stopped at the words, “blessed hope”, we could not be certain what is meant by it; so that it is not unreasonable to take the following clause as a definition or explanation of what that hope is: “the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ”. The word “and” that connects the phrases does not necessarily imply that they are two different things, since the Greek word kai can be translated “even”.

Besides, while we have many hopes to be fulfilled in the last day, the center of all our hopes is Jesus Christ Himself, and in particular, His appearing. All of the eschatological (last days) events revolve around the return of the King, Who will set everything right!

WHY IS IT CALLED THE BLESSED HOPE?

Let’s dig a little deeper, and consider further what are the reasons why the glorious appearing of Jesus Christ is called the blessed hope.

One Reason why the second advent is called “the blessed hope” is because it marks the end of this age and the beginning of that longed-for and everlasting age which is to come. The New Testament commonly distinguishes two “worlds” or ages:

And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him: but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come. “ (Matthew 12:32)

But he shall receive an hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life.“ (Mark 10:30)

Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.“ (Luke 18:30)

Therefore in the resurrection whose wife of them is she? for seven had her to wife. And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection.” (Luke 20:33-36)

Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:” (Ephesians 1:21)

For bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

I quote these texts, rather than merely cite them because citations are often overlooked. They may not capture our attention. It may come as a shock to those who have had Dispensational teaching, and who think that there is another age (the millennium) to come between ours and the eternal state, that the New Testament knows nothing of such a thing as a “middle age” between the two. If there is a “millennium”, it can only occur within our own present age; as many of the best theologians have believed.

This is the age of hardship, of warfare, of broken hearts and broken bodies, of sin and suffering. Who would not be glad to exchange it for a world in which none of these things exists? The resurrection and eternal life are the unmerited reward of our term of labor. Is this not a sufficient reason to be looking for the day of His coming?

A Second Reason why the second advent is called “the blessed hope” is because when once that event occurs, everything moves inexorably and rapidly forward to the consummation. When Christ returns, what we know as the history of the world is at an end.

The great commission having been fulfilled, the preaching of the gospel for the conversion of sinners will be at an end. (Mathew 28:20) The celebration of the sacraments will cease, having been ordained only until “the end of the age“ (Mathew 28:19-20), “till he come”(1 Corinthians 11:26). All these things will have served their purpose.

The longsuffering of God toward the world for the sake of His elect will be ended when the last elect sinner is converted (2 Peter 3:9-10). The church will then be complete, and the work of redemption at an end. Then he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (2 Thessalo-nians 1:10). All the dead in Christ, the saints of all ages, shall rise (1 Corinthians 15:22-23), and all the living saints shall be caught up and transformed (1 Corinthians 15:51 with 1 Thessalonians 4:17). Christ shall then present His perfected bride to himself (Ephesians 5:25-27).

Immediately upon the return of Christ, a series of final events commences: the glorification of the faithful, the resurrection of the dead, the final and eternal judgment of all men, the renovation of the earth by fire, the inauguration of eternal bliss on the renewed earth. It is proper and natural then, that we should be taught to focus on the return of Christ as the event that signals the fulfillment of all our hopes.

A Third Reason is that all these other eschatological events will be the acts of the Savior Himself, performed as the completion of His Mediatorial mission of saving the world. He will personally call the dead out of the graves. (John 5:29) He Himself will judge the world. (Matthew 25:31-46; Acts 17:30-31) It is He, and none other, who will dissolve the frame of earth, and refashion it to a new perfection! (Rev. 21:5-6 – see 1:8)

When He comes, He will set all things to rights. Nothing will be right until then. And when He does it, it cannot ever be undone. Nothing less than this complete consummation of the happiness of the elect and the removal of all evil from the world forever will serve the perfect purposes of God, who has resolved upon our perfect blessedness in our Lord and savior Jesus Christ, and in Him alone!

To separate the second coming of our Lord from the other constituent parts of the consummation is nothing less than to diminish its importance, as well as its place of centrality to Christian hope. Even worse is to separate the second coming itself into two stages: the so-called “rapture” and the “revelation”. This makes the rapture the blessed hope instead of His appearing! There are many who are convinced that they are living in the last generation, and that they will be alive when Christ comes (any day now). For them, the “blessed hope” is to be alive at the rapture – to leave earth without having to die! How different is the scriptural perspective!

SUMMARY

Let us then heed the words of the Apostle, and be careful to both teach and practice those things that become the gospel; with the encouragement that the King will not disappoint our hope, for:

The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Th 1:7-12)

Howard Douglas King

August 12, 2019