Each week we LIVESTREAM the Lord's Day Sabbath School at 10a, Lord's Day morning public worship at 11a, and Lord's Day p.m. singing (3p) and sermon (3:45), and the Midweek Sermon and Prayer Meeting at 6:30p on Wednesday

Monday, October 31, 2022

2022.10.31 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 20:4–6

Read Exodus 20:4–6

Questions from the Scripture text: What must a man not make (Exodus 20:4)? What else from what three places? For which two purposes is the making or use of such things prohibited (Exodus 20:5)? Why—what does God say about Himself? What will He visit upon whom? To how many generations? What does He call such people? But to whom will He do what (Exodus 20:6)? What two things does He call those who keep this commandment?

By what method is God to be worshiped? Exodus 20:4–6 looks forward to the devotional in the midweek prayer meeting. In these three verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God is to be worshiped only by the method of His devising, not man’s.

The one devising the worship is the one being worshiped. God won’t share His worship with the image of any creation of ours (Exodus 20:4a) or any creation of His (verse 4b). He has chosen for us a “how” of worship that preserves for us the “Whom” of worship. If we worship in our own way, then in reality we worship ourselves. If we worship in a way that imitates anything in all creation, then we worship the creature rather than the Creator.

Of course, our remaining sinfulness willfully resists the truth that adding anything of our own to God’s worship fundamentally changes not just the nature of our worship but the actual object of Whom it is that we are worshiping. Our remaining fleshliness wants to think that it’s no big deal and that worship should be in a way that pleases us.

Choosing another way of worship, and therefore to worship another, is to hate God. So God puts the infinite evil of creaturely worship in no uncertain terms. He calls those who worship their way instead of His way “those who hate Me.” If we say that’s overstating it, we just show how different our judgment is from His and that we need this commandment even more than we think we did. 

For the ultimate way of knowing and worshiping God is in the Lord Jesus Himself. The way that God gave them to worship before the coming of Christ was all by ways that showed forth Christ. The way that God has given us to worship after His coming, is by ways that are led by Christ Himself from heaven. To come to worship God in any other way, is to come in a way other than Christ.

O the glory that belongs to us, whom God has called to Himself, and whom God has given His true worship. We have God Himself! And we have Him in Christ! And if we set that aside for something else—something inevitably and infinitely less—we hate Him Whom we have and choose instead a version of Him that we would prefer.

The devastating consequences of man-designed worship. To this strong description, God adds a strong consequence: visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth. A father is without God to the very extent that he worships falsely. And a father without God will have the grief of watching his children grow up to be without God too. 

The children’s self-desired and self-designed worship will blossom into worse and worse worship and even the full apostasy of turning from the Lord altogether. They come to know less and less of the true God and get caught up in superstition (atheism by attaching meaning to religiosity instead of God Himself by His truth), sentimentalism (atheism by attaching feelings to religiosity instead of God Himself by His truth), or just plain atheism. 

Remember—this warning against idolatry was to believers! And it was a personal warning. The very God Whom they claim to worship will personally inflict this penalty upon them and their children.

The inestimable benefit of Lord-designed worship. And yet, the opposite is true to an even greater extent. If the negative consequences of sin in purity of worship are by a factor of three or four, then the positive consequences of faithfulness in purity of worship are by a factor of a thousand! 

Right worship—which the Lord here describes as loving Him and keeping His commandments—is a means by which (and in response to which) the Lord shows covenanted, redeeming love even unto a thousand generations. 

How awful for so much of the “Christian” world to be fighting over one sort of manmade worship versus another sort of manmade worship, when all worship complications—old or new—put us on the wrong side of this commandment. The Lord grant His church to return to the purity and simplicity of worship that seeks God alone in His way alone!

What are some ways that man has added to God’s worship over the centuries? What are some ways that man is adding to God’s worship now? Why is it such a big deal? What does this commandment tell us that we can expect to keep happening, if they keep doing this? What can we expect, if we stop? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are truly merciful to have created us to know You and worship You! Forgive us for when we are so foolish as to invent our own ways of knowing or worshiping—for then it is not You that we know or worship. So grant us the help of Your Spirit that we would know You truly in Christ, through Whom we ask it, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP16A “Keep Me, O God” or TPH174 “The Ten Commandments”

Saturday, October 29, 2022

Following the Spirit's Lead to Peace in the Church [Family Worship lesson in Acts 15:18–35]

Who deliver the judgments of the church? Acts 15:23–35 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that while it is preachers who deliver judgments from synods, and exhort, and strengthen, and teach, and preach, yet ultimately it is the Holy Spirit Who is doing all these things in the church.
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2022.10.29 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 15:23–35

Read Acts 15:23–35

Questions from the Scripture text: What did the assembly write (Acts 15:23)? By whom did they send it (cf. Acts 15:22)? From whom did they write it? To whom? Where? How did it start? What was the occasion of the letter—what had some done (Acts 15:24)? With what effect on their souls? Saying what? Even though what had not been done? How had the letter been decided upon (Acts 15:25)? With what type of men is it being sent? With whom? What have Barnabas and Paul done (Acts 15:26)? For What? Which chosen men are being sent (Acts 15:27)? What will they do? Who, ultimately, has given this judgment (Acts 15:28)? Through whom? What has He determined to do? What things are laid upon them? From what four things must they abstain (Acts 15:29)? With what benefit if they do? How does the letter close? What is done to the four men in Acts 15:30? To where do they come? Whom do they gather? What do they deliver? How does the multitude respond (Acts 15:31)? What do we learn about Judas and Silas in Acts 15:32? As preachers, what do they do to the brethren? With what? What do they do for how long (Acts 15:33)? Then what is done with them? What do they bring back? From whom to whom? But who doesn’t wish to go (Acts 15:34)? Who also remain (Acts 15:35)? Doing what two things? With whom else?

Who deliver the judgments of the church? Acts 15:23–35 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that while it is preachers who deliver judgments from synods, and exhort, and strengthen, and teach, and preach, yet ultimately it is the Holy Spirit Who is doing all these things in the church. 

This passage relates the writing, delivery, and reception of the decision of the first general synod. 

The writing of the letter. The letter itself communicates the brotherhood of the entire church under Christ and the Spirit. Although the decision was made by the assembly of apostles and elders, the whole church has concurred (Acts 15:22), and now the letter identifies itself as being from “the brethren” (Acts 15:23) as much as from the apostles and elders. It is important for the members of the congregations in Antioch to know that this brotherly view of them has not just been “decided by the leadership” but embraced by the whole household of God.

This brother-recognition is even more strongly stated in identifying the letter’s addressees as “the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia.” All of the members of these churches are, of course, brethren. But the letter singles out the Gentiles as equally members of the family of God as the apostles themselves. They are demonstrating that the decision in the letter is not a concession for second-class Christians, but an acknowledgement that they have faith that is of the same status (cf. 2 Peter 1:1). 

By calling them “brethren,” the apostles and elders place themselves on a level not just with believers in Antioch but specifically with Gentile believers. This sends a strong message in light of the fact that this was all made necessary by those who had come from Jerusalem and “troubled them with words, unsettling their souls” (Acts 15:24). 

The letter relates, as we saw in Acts 15:20, that they are to refrain especially from those things that participate in the idolatry of their Gentile neighbors and breaking of the Noahic covenant (Acts 15:29). The order is slightly different here, but the big addition is that in doing this they will “practice [what is] good.” This is not a burden being laid upon them (Acts 15:28) but an invitation to the service of Christ. 

Finally, notice the phrase at the beginning of Acts 15:28, “it seemed good to the Holy Spirit.” It’s not that Paul and Barnabas won an argument, or even that a particular position won the day, but that the Holy Spirit has led His church into the truth. He brings them to the conclusion that is consistent with the rest of the Scriptures that He has produced (cf. 1 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 1:20–21).  

This means something frightful for assemblies where the Scriptures are not faithfully adhered to: rather than men serving under the power of the Spirit, men in those assemblies have themselves taken the reigns instead of the Spirit. But it means something wonderful for those congregations and presbyteries who follow the biblical prescription for Synods: what they are aiming to do is to be ruled and led by the Spirit.

The delivery of the letter. The delivery of the letter is a vital part of the Jerusalem church’s affirmation of the joint council with Paul and Barnabas and others from the northern church. As they say in Acts 15:24, the troublers had gone out unbidden and against Paul and Barnabas (cf. Acts 15:2). Now, instead of being unbidden, Judas and Silas are “chosen,” which the letter itself emphasizes in Acts 15:25. And instead of opposing Barnabas and Paul, thy are “with” Barnabas and Paul.

Furthermore, the assembly heaps affection and admiration upon Barnabas and Paul. First, affection: they call Barnabas and Paul “beloved.” Then, admiration: “men who have risked their lives for the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” This means much to the church in Jerusalem, where many had been martyred. It gives them a kinship with Barnabas and Paul and admiration for them.

Carrying such a letter, Judas and Silas “will also report the same things by word of mouth.” The word for “report” is built on the word for “angel” or “messenger.” They will be able to see the sincerity of the letter in Judas and Silas’s manner with Barnabas and Paul, and in Judas and Silas’s countenance toward the Gentile believers in Antioch. As Judas and Silas read the letter, the gathering in Antioch can study them and know that this is true.

The reception of the letter. The delegation from Jerusalem arrives in Antioch, gathers the multitude together, and delivers the letter (Acts 15:30). Now the multitude rejoices over its encouragement, and Judas and Silas add their own encouragement (“exhorted” in Acts 15:32 is the verb form of the noun in Acts 15:31). Not only have they gladdened them in verse 31, but now they strengthen them as well (Acts 15:33). 

By what means do they strengthen them? By means of “many words.” As “prophets also” their ministry, like that of Paul and Barnabas is “reaching and preaching the word of the Lord.” Christian ministry is first and foremost a ministry of the Word. 

So they minister the Word long enough among them that they can now speak on behalf of the Antioch church, and are sent back to the apostles with greetings. The synod, its decision, its letter, and its mission have had the intended effect; there is peace and purity in the church!

How is your church participating in the Spirit’s leading His church by way of synods? What are some of the theological questions before your synod? Whom do you pray is leading them? What do you pray will be the outcome? Besides the actual decisions, how may this be accomplished?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving Your church both peace and purity. Thank You for the gift of Your Holy Spirit, and how He helps and uses the men whom You call and gift for the eldership. Please sustain our elders by Your grace, and grant that our synod would stick to Your Word. Grant that the way decisions are delivered and received would gladden and strengthen Christ’s people, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH409 “Blest Be the Tie That Binds”

Friday, October 28, 2022

Praising Our Strength and Help from the Womb through Eternity [Family Worship lesson in Psalm 71:1–13]

How do older believers pray when under serious threat and attack? Psalm 71:1–13 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that those who have learned, by both doctrine and experience, that the Lord is their strong refuge resort to Him all the more in old age.
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A Crowning Achievement of God's Gospel: Christ Succeeded Where the Law Couldn't [2022.10.26 Midweek sermon in Romans 3:27–31]


The faith, by which alone we can be justified, is also the only way that genuine law-keeping is ever produced.

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2022.10.28 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 25:10–22

Read Exodus 25:10–22

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the first tabernacle furnishing about which Yahweh gives Moses instruction (Exodus 25:10)? How long is it? How wide? How tall? With what must it be overlayed (Exodus 25:11)? On which surfaces? What other gold will be added? Where? What shall be cast for it in Exodus 25:12? How many? To put where? Arranged how? What else shall they make (Exodus 25:13)? Overlayed with what? To put where (Exodus 25:14)? For what purpose? Where must the poles be (Exodus 25:15)? What mustn’t be done to them? What must Moses put into the ark (Exodus 25:16)? What else shall be made for the ark (Exodus 25:17)? Out of what substance? What length? What width? What else must be made (Exodus 25:18)? How many? Out of what? With what technique? Where? What parts of this instruction are repeated in Exodus 25:19? What is their relation to the mercy seat? What will the cherubim stretch out (Exodus 25:20)? To do what to the mercy seat? What shall they face? In order to face what else? Where will they put the mercy seat (Exodus 25:21)? What instruction is repeated here? What will happen there (Exodus 25:22)? What will Yahweh do? From where? How else does He describe this place? About what will the Lord speak to him? 

What is the most important furniture of the tabernacle? Exodus 25:10–22 looks forward to the p.m. sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the most important furnishing of the tabernacle is a box, and especially its “atonement-cover.”

The instructions for building the tabernacle work their way from the holy of holies out. The first item to be built, then, is the ark of the testimony. This is a very rare word. So far, we’ve seen only Noah’s ark in the flood and baby Moses’s ark on the river. Here now is a third ark of safety—safety from the wrath of God for Moses and all Israel. 

The Lord is going to be in the midst of them in His holiness? The Lord is going to be engaged to them by covenanted contract? How will they survive?! The ark will have the testimony inside it, but between it and God’s throne above will be an atonement-cover (a more literal translation than “mercy seat.”) 

God prescribes His people’s safety. Every aspect of this construction is very specifically detailed by God. On the one hand, this conveys His interest and intentionality in their safety. On the other, this conveys how very unsafe it is to deviate from His instructions or add man’s own ideas.

God’s portable presence. Considering the significance of the box, it’s pretty amazing that it’s only 3'9"x2'3"x2'3". But we must remember that it is going in a tent and will be carried on poles (cf. Exodus 25:12-15). It is meant to be a portable presence.

God’s enduring presence. With that in mind, the specification of acacia wood is important. It is a very heavy wood. But, it is also a very hard, durable word, and an antimicrobial wood that won’t develop fungal or bacterial rot. The ark may be built to move, but it’s also built to last.

God’s heavenly presence. The priority on portability also draws attention to overlaying things in gold. We are instructed by the willingness to take on that weight in order to make the display of heavenliness in having everything covered with gold. No wood will be visible on the ark.

God’s covenantal presence. The instruction to put the Testimony in the ark (Exodus 25:16) is repeated in Exodus 25:21. Then Exodus 25:22 calls it by the name “the ark of the Testimony.” Not only will it have the original documents inside, but it will be there that Yahweh speak with Moses “about everything which I will give you in commandment to the children of Israel.” God maintains His relationship with His people by His Word, which they must hear and heed.

God’s merciful, royal presence. With the document in the box, how can it dwell among a sinful people, or how can a sinner come near? Exodus 25:17-21 detail the construction and placement of the “atonement-cover.” The importance of this lid is heightened by its being solid gold.  The cherubim signify the throne of the Lord Who rules over all heaven and earth (cf. Numbers 7:89; 1 Samuel 4:4; 2 Samuel 6:2; Psalm 80:1). But that throne is “hammered work of one piece” with the atonement-cover. It communicates a reality on earth that will be realized when Christ takes His seat in heaven: even in light of His heart-exposing Word, God’s throne is unto us a throne of grace (cf. Hebrews 4:12Hebrews 4:16)! Christ is our mercy seat!

How constantly aware are you of God’s presence? How aware of its mercy and glory in Christ? 

Sample prayer: Lord, we thank You and praise You for making Christ the One in Whom You come near to us and bring us near to Yourself. Make us continually aware of both how merciful and how glorious that presence is in Him, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH332 “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”


Thursday, October 27, 2022

What an Elder Must NOT Be [Family Worship lesson in 1Timothy 3:3]

What must an overseer not be? 1Timothy 3:3 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that overseers must not be those who are controlled by wine, force, rapacity, antagonism, or avarice.
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2022.10.27 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 3:3

Read 1 Timothy 3:3

Questions from the Scripture text: What is the first thing that this verse says that an overseer must not be? What is the second thing he must not be? What is the third? What positive characteristic is set over-against these first three? What is the fourth thing that he must not be? What is the fifth?

What must an overseer not be? 1 Timothy 3:3 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In this verse of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that overseers must not be those who are controlled by wine, force, rapacity, antagonism, or avarice.

Last week, we noted that for the “good work” to which a bishop is called in 1 Timothy 3:1, he must be qualified by the set of characteristics in 1 Timothy 3:2. Several of those characteristics (temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior) require a great deal of self-control. But if a man is to be controlled by the Spirit, controlled by good doctrine, controlled by a gold heart, then there are a number of other things that he mustn’t be controlled by. 1 Timothy 3:3 now gives us a representative (not exhaustive) list: wine, force, rapacity, antagonism, and avarice.

Not controlled by wine. Our “greedy for wine” is translating just one word from the original. The same is true of “greedy for money,” so that the original has an even more abrupt, staccato, rapid-fire feel. The first thing an overseer mustn’t be is wine-controlled—the kind of man who always has the wine in his hand, and if he doesn’t, he’s thinking about it. Any desire for pleasure may have the same effect—particularly in our entertainment-saturated, play-saturated, luxury-saturated, self-indulgent society. How can a man be devoted to good works if he’s obsessed with feeling good and enjoying himself?

Not controlled by “force.” Our translation’s “violence” describes a man who brute-forces things. He interacts with those over whom he has some controlling advantage, and he unhesitatingly uses it. It could be literal strength, in which he is physically violent. Or, it could be a position of authority or wealth. Such a man is a bully and unfit to do the work of shepherding. He probably thinks it’s best for everyone if he is in charge. He may indeed desire to be an overseer, but the church must avoid having him as one. 

Not controlled by “rapacity.” There are two “greed” words in this list. The first is one that combines the word “shameless” with the word for “gain.” This man is the ultimate pragmatist. He’s so focused on the end result that he’s willing to flex on how he gets there. What God sees or what God says to do isn’t as important to him as the profit or advantage that can be obtained (“gain” here is not limited to money). 

But an overseer is called to a work in which conscience before God is its own outcome, and he ought to be shepherding the flock to have that same mindset. This is expressed by the word “gentle” in our translation, which the text sets over-against the first three disqualifying characteristics. “Gentle” here expresses restraint of self in order to enable others. In Philippians 4:5, it was facilitated by the knowledge that the Lord is near, and that outcomes belong to Him. The eldership is no place for a pragmatist.

Not controlled by antagonism. Literally, the word is “unpeaceable.” We all know the type who just always has to raise an opposing point. The contrarian who will play devil’s advocate, even if he is in agreement. He’s not happy unless there’s debate. He thinks it’s his job in every situation to counterbalance what’s being said or done. An overseer will have to dispute at times, but “a disputer” should not be an overseer.

Not controlled by avarice. The second “greed” word is a negative form of the word “silver-lover.” The silver-lover is all about possessions. He might claim to be a lover of God and lover of people (what aspiring overseer doesn’t?), but he is exposed by his reluctance to open his hand or wallet when it’s time to help. An elder who rules well is worthy of double-honor (cf. 1 Timothy 5:17–18. He’s willing to give up lucrative time (or, in the case of the preacher/teacher, even a lucrative career) for the sake of the flock. He can’t be a money lover.

What objects or desires threaten to control you instead of love of God and love of others?

Sample prayer:  Lord, we praise You for the certainty that You both care for all our needs and work all things according to the counsel of Your will. Forgive us for being controlled by pleasure, or pragmatism, or possessions. Grant that the love of Christ would constrain us instead, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1B “How Blest the Man”

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

Knowing the Constant Presence of Our Gracious and Holy God before Whose Face We Live [Family Worship lesson in 2Kings 5:15–27]

Where is God? 2Kings 5:15–27 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the true God is everywhere and sees everything, so we must aim at pleasing Him in all of our actions in every place.
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2022.10.26 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 5:15–27

Read 2 Kings 5:15–27

Questions from the Scripture text: Where does Naaman go in 2 Kings 5:15? With whom? Who stand before Elisha? What does Naaman say that he knows? What does he ask Elisha to do? How does Elisha begin his response in 2 Kings 5:16? What does he say that he does in front of Yahweh? What will he receive/accept? How does Naaman respond? How does Elisha keep responding? For what does Naaman then ask in 2 Kings 5:17? What will he no longer do? To Whom alone will he sacrifice? What does he ask for from Yahweh (2 Kings 5:18)? For what does he want pardon—where will he still go? Why, to do what? How does Elisha answer in 2 Kings 5:19? Who speaks to himself in 2 Kings 5:20? To Whom does he swear? What does he plan to do? What does Gehazi do in 2 Kings 5:21? Who sees him? How does Naaman respond? What does he ask? How does Gehazi answer in 2 Kings 5:22? What story does he spin? What does he ask for under the guise of this story? What does Naaman offer instead (2 Kings 5:23)? Who helps him give the gift? To where does Gehazi arrive in 2 Kings 5:24? What does he do there with the silver and the garments? What does he do with the servants? Where does Gehazi go in 2 Kings 5:25? What does Elisha ask him (2 Kings 5:26)? How does Gehazi answer? What does Elisha say went with Gehazi? What does Elisha ask Gehazi about timing? What does Elisha say will cling to whom in 2 Kings 5:27? Where does Gehazi now go? In what condition?

Where is God? 2 Kings 5:15–27 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the true God is everywhere and sees everything, so we must aim at pleasing Him in all of our actions in every place.

Only one God in all the earth. Naaman’s Damascus-pride (2 Kings 5:12) (and Rimmon-pride, 2 Kings 5:18) has now been humbled. Now, he recognizes that Israel is the only land that has an actual God (2 Kings 5:15). Naaman wants to give something to the prophet who was this God’s mouth to him, but Elisha acknowledges himself to be a mere “standing servant” (2 Kings 5:16) just as Naaman himself is in Syria (cf. 2 Kings 5:18). Unable to recognize Yahweh as God by gift, Naaman wants to recognize Yahweh by taking a piece of Yahweh’s land with him.

A gracious God, with gracious servants. Naaman’s theology leaves much to be desired. He doesn’t seem to understand that Yahweh is God in and over Syria (cf. the error in 1 Kings 20:23). He seems to think that he needs some Yahweh-dirt in order to offer Yahweh-sacrifice (2 Kings 5:17). And though he understands that enabling his master’s idolatry requires pardon, he already plans on doing so anyway (2 Kings 5:18).

But notice the difference between Elisha’s response to Naaman’s weakness (2 Kings 5:19) and to Gehazi’s (2 Kings 5:27). Naaman is wrong about himself, but he isn’t wrong to think that Yahweh is a merciful, gracious, and longsuffering God (cf. God’s own self-description in Exodus 34:6). The spiritual work done in him is not nothing, and the Lord has regard for the work of His hands. We ought to have the same hope for mercy that Naaman had, and with those who are new to faith we ought to show the same patience as Elisha.

The God Who sees us always, everywhere. For his part, Naaman at least knows that even back in Syria Yahweh will be seeing him and responding to him. Gehazi? He’s swearing by Yahweh’s Name (2 Kings 5:20), but still thinking he can pull the wool over Yahweh’s eyes—hiding the goods (2 Kings 5:24) and lying about the trip (2 Kings 5:25). As Yahweh’s servant, Elisha’s heart had gone with him (2 Kings 5:26). But even if Elisha had missed it, shouldn’t Gehazi have cared more about what Yahweh saw?

Yahweh sees the heart, and Elisha highlights this by naming all the things that Gehazi’s heart craved to buy with that silver. At the end, we have two flawed believers: Naaman and Gehazi. The way Elisha states the curse in 2 Kings 5:27 demands that we note the comparison/contrast. Gehazi has been given more, but is bearing less fruit. Of him to whom much is given, much is required. If you’re reading and using this devotional, it’s likely that much has been given to you. Don’t seek comfort in sin by looking away from God; rather, seek to resist your remaining sin by looking to the God Who sees you and helps you.

In what situations are you tempted to forget that the Lord sees you? For you personally, what does your heart desire that is in competition with desiring to please the Lord? With whom, specifically, do you need to be more understanding? From whom, specifically, should you have higher expectations?

Sample prayer: Lord, You see us and You know us. We thank You for Your longsuffering and mercy with us, but of us to whom so much has been given, certainly much is required. Forgive us for enabling the idolatry of others like Naaman did with his master. Forgive us for desiring riches more than desiring to please You. Forgive us for watching out for what men see, and disregarding the fact that You see us. As You did with Elisha, conform us to Your own character we pray, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH273 “Break, Thou the Bread of Life”

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

2022.10.25 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 71:1–13

Read Psalm 71:1–13

Questions from the Scripture text: What does the psalmist put in the Lord (Psalm 71:1)? What does he ask not to happen? What four things does he ask the Lord to do for him in Psalm 71:2? What does he ask God to be for him in Psalm 71:3a? What does he say that God is to him in verse 3d? What does the psalmist say he will do in verse 3b? What does he say God has given in verse 3c? What does he ask God to do for him in Psalm 71:4? What three things does he call his attacker? What is the Lord Yahweh to the psalmist (Psalm 71:5)? Since when? What had God done for him, since when (Psalm 71:6a–b)? How does the psalmist respond (verse 6c)? How have people responded to the psalmist’s distress (Psalm 71:7a)? But what is God to him (verse 7b)? With what two things will his mouth be filled (Psalm 71:8)? What does he ask God not to do (Psalm 71:9a)? When? What else to do (verse 9b)? When? Who else are doing what to the psalmist (Psalm 71:10a)? What are they doing to him (verse 10b)? What are they doing with each other? What do those enemies say has happened to the psalmist (Psalm 71:11a)? What do they think they are therefore free to do (verse 11b)? What does the psalmist ask God not to do in Psalm 71:12a? What does he ask God to do (verse 12b)? What does he ask God to do to the enemies in Psalm 71:13a? In verse 13c? What two ways does he describe him (verse 13b, d)?

How do older believers pray when under serious threat and attack? Psalm 71:1–13 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these thirteen  verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that those who have learned, by both doctrine and experience, that the Lord is their strong refuge resort to Him all the more in old age.  

There is no superscript for this Psalm. As is often the case, this is because it continues the thought or theme from the previous Psalm (70). The psalmist is under attack and crying out to God not only that He would deliver him (Psalm 71:2, 4,Psalm 71:4 Psalm 71:12) and be his refuge (Psalm 71:3Psalm 71:5), but also that He would put to shame the enemy (Psalm 71:13). Putting the enemy to shame in verse 13 dovetails with the psalmist’s plea for himself in Psalm 71:1.

Trouble in old age. The difference here is that the psalmist is now elderly (Psalm 71:9). It is his time of old age, when his strength is failing. But it is earthly-minded to think that the believer is at greater disadvantage now than before. For God has not declined with age. God’s strength is not diminished. The refuge, help, and deliverance of the believer is as strong as ever.

Help from the womb. One way to remember that our former youth was not our strength is to follow that line of thinking a little further back than our early twenties or late teens. The holy logic here is that when he was in the womb (Psalm 71:6a, more literally), the Lord was making him to stand—so that he was only brought out of the belly when the Lord did it (verse 6b).

Remember when you were young and strong? Then remember instead when you were younger and even more helpless than now! In particular, remember who your God is. At that time, He was the God who saves you through no actions of your own. But over time, you learned that He is pleased to deliver by inclining His ear to our cries (Psalm 71:2). And, you learned that He is pleased to deliver through our continual turning to Him (Psalm 71:3). 

But He was delivering you before you learned to cry and before you learned to turn. The crying and turning themselves were things that His grace taught your heart to do!

Praise in youth, old age—continually. This brings us at last to the purpose of all this sustaining and delivering: displaying the Lord’s praiseworthiness. And the purpose of all this teaching our mouths to cry and hearts to turn: teaching the same mouths and hearts to praise.

What is the outcome of being sustained even from the womb (Psalm 71:6a–b)? “My praise is continually of You” (verse 6c). What is the desired outcome of deliverance from the current situation (Psalm 71:7)? “Let my mouth be filled with Your praise, Your glory all the day” (Psalm 71:8).

Suddenly, we have a new understanding of the troubles (and even attacks) in old age: they are the backdrop for new displays of continued faithfulness and thus the provocation for renewed response of thankful praise. The attackers’ temporary success will turn to being confounded and consumed.

What troubles/attacks are you under? What life-long experience since the womb does this continue? What habits and practices in your life show a right response? How long should this continue?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You sustained us from our mothers’ wombs! All our lives long, You have inclined Your ear to our pleas for help; incline Your ear now to the praise of our mouths. You taught our hearts to turn to You continually for help. Now, teach our hearts to keep turning to You in praise, in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP71B “Do Not Forsake Me in Old Age” or TPH71 “In You, Lord, I Take Refuge”

Monday, October 24, 2022

Prescription, Provision, and Pattern for God’s Glorious Dwelling with His People [2022.10.23 Evening Sermon in Exodus 25:1–9]


God, Whose ultimate design for dwelling among His people is Christ, taught us—even by the construction of the tabernacle—our complete dependence upon Him for that nearness.

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The Ordaining and Operating of a Spirit-Led Synod [2022.10.23 Morning Sermon in Acts 15:1–17]


The Spirit answers difficult questions of faith through councils of elders who work through the issue theologically, under Scripture.

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Biblical Theology of the Diaconate (8): Diaconal Aspects of the Church in the Patriarchs [2022.10.23 Sabbath School]

As the Lord begins to separate His church from the world, one of their distinguishing characteristics is knowing God’s goodness in earthly provision and showing God’s goodness in stewarding that provision.
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Theology Simply Explained — WSC58, The God of Holy Time and All of Our Time

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 58—especially pointing out that by setting apart some of our time as holy unto Him for worship, the Lord lays claim to wise and proper use of all our other time as well. WSC58: What is required in the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment requireth the keeping holy to God such set times as He hath appointed in His Word; expressly one whole day in seven, to be a holy sabbath to Himself.
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Faith Succeeds Where the Law of Works Fails [Family Worship lesson in Romans 3:27–31]

How is boasting actually eliminated from our lives? Romans 3:27–31 looks forward to the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that whereas the law of works couldn’t eliminate boasting, the law of the Spirit of life actually expunges it.
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2022.10.24 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 3:27–31

Read Romans 3:27–31

Questions from the Scripture text: What does Romans 3:27 ask about? What has happened to it? Which law hasn’t done this? Which law has? What do “we” do in Romans 3:28? By What is a man declared righteous? Apart from what? About Whom does Romans 3:29 now ask? Whose God is He? Whom does Romans 3:30 first say that God will justify? Out of what? Whom else does He justify? Through what? What does Romans 3:31 ask if we do? What is the answer? What do we do, through faith, to the law?

How is boasting actually eliminated from our lives? Romans 3:27–31 looks forward to the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that whereas the law of works couldn’t eliminate boasting, the law of the Spirit of life actually expunges it.

We all know, intuitively, that boasting is wrong. Yet, the works of the law had not inhibited boasting but fostered it (cf. Romans 2:19–20). Now the Spirit shows us the superiority of the gospel: the law of faith has actually excluded boasting (Romans 3:27)! This is an example of the law having been weakened through flesh and unable to do something (cf. Romans 8:3), so that the good law was to us the law of sin and death (cf. Romans 8:2). But, through faith in Jesus, the law is unto us the law of the Spirit of life (cf. Romans 8:2).

The law sets before us that all glorying in self is excluded (cf. Romans 1:18–3:20). But that has not actually excluded boasting from our hearts or our behavior. It is when the gospel establishes glorying in Christ alone (cf. Romans 3:21–26, Romans 15:17) that glorying in self is actually eliminated.

For some members of the Roman church, this was one of the most needed applications of the gospel; they were in danger of being full of themselves (cf. Romans 1:8; Romans 14:2; Romans 15:1). The gospel blows up all our boasting. It says that our best deeds need atoning. The law of works tells me that I have nothing to boast about, but if I get there by following that instruction, I may think of myself as better at “not boasting” than the next guy. So, it hasn’t been excluded. 

But the law of faith says that I can’t cling to a single thing in myself, not a single thing that I do (Romans 3:28). I can never turn to clinging to anything but Christ. There’s no such thing as “better” faith than the next guy, because as soon as I begin to think that way, I’ve begun to cling to faith instead of clinging to Christ.

The gospel has come along and said that there is only one kind of salvation—that which comes from covenant with God (He is the only God and Savior of either Jews or Gentiles, Romans 3:29). The only salvation is that which comes through faith in Christ (faith apart from the deeds of the law is the only instrument of saving either circumcised or uncircumcised, Romans 3:30), that which produces the very keeping of God’s law that the law itself could not produce (Romans 3:31).

Has your boasting been eliminated? To the same point, what is your day-to-day experience of exulting in Christ? What do you think of your own works? But how rich to you is the glory of Christ? 

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for setting before us the sinfulness that remains in even our best works. But thank You all the more for setting before us Christ and His perfections of atonement and righteousness. Eliminate our boasting in self by establishing our boasting in Him we ask, in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Saturday, October 22, 2022

2022.10.22 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 15:1–22

Read Acts 15:1–22

Questions from the Scripture text: From where did men come down (Acts 15:1)? Whom did they teach? To whom did they attribute circumcision? What did they say could not be done without it? What did Paul and Barnabas have with them (Acts 15:2)? What did the church determine to do? Whom did they decide to send to whom? What route did the Antiochan delegates take (Acts 15:3)? What did they do along the way? What did this cause to whom? Where did they come in Acts 15:4? By whom were they received? What did they report? Who rose up in Acts 15:5? What two things did they insist was necessary? Who came together in Acts 15:6? To do what? What did they have much of (Acts 15:7)? Then who rose up? Of what event did he remind them (cf. chapter 10)? What does he point out that God knows? What had God done to Gentiles (Acts 15:8)? By giving them what? What didn’t God make (Acts 15:9)? But what did He do to their hearts? By what? What does Peter say they would be doing to God if they demanded circumcision (Acts 15:10)? What would they be doing to the disciples? Who couldn’t bear that yoke? To whom do the multitude now listen silently (Acts 15:12)? What were Paul and Barnabas declaring? What does James wait for Paul and Barnabas to do (Acts 15:13)? Whom does he address? For what does he ask? Whose speech does he reference in Acts 15:14? Whom has God visited? What has He taken out of them? for what? Now to what does he compare this testimony in Acts 15:15? What had Amos said that Yahweh would do to what (Acts 15:16, cf. Amos 9:11)? With what result for the rest of mankind (Acts 15:17a)? And what nations (verse 17b, cf. Amos 9:12)? Who would do this (verse 17c)? What is known to Whom since when (Acts 15:18)? What is James’s judgement that they shouldn’t do (Acts 15:19)? What three things does he say they should write to them instead (Acts 15:20)? What does he say Moses has had, where, and how long (Acts 15:21)? What is done where? How often? What three groups were pleased in Acts 15:22? To send whom with whom? Which two specifically? What type of men were they?

How does the church resolve issues that are unable to be settled in the local church? Acts 15:1–22 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these twenty-two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that elders of Christ’s church are to gather in broader assemblies to determine controversies of faith. 

The Lord’s ordaining of the synod. In the Spirit’s wisdom, He has juxtaposed the Scriptural underpinning of sessions and presbyteries (cf. Acts 14:23) with this passage that gives us a Scriptural underpinning for synods and councils (a.k.a. general assemblies). Whereas the former were for the ongoing, ordinary work of the church, this council is occasioned by a specific issue/problem. 

And it is a very great problem! By placing circumcision alongside the gospel  in necessity for salvation, these “certain ones” from Acts 15:1 come under the later-written anathema of Galatians 1:8–9. If you are living in an age of the church which has forgotten that there are things worth having “no small dissension and dispute,” let Paul and Barnabas in Acts 15:2, and more generally this occasion of the first synod, remind us of it. There are doctrines worth defending. And one of the Lord’s primary ways of defending them is at councils composed of elders from across multiple presbyteries.

The delegates from Antioch include “Paul and Barnabas and certain others” (Acts 15:2). And it is specifically “to the apostles and elders” that they are going. This isn’t a church visit (although the whole church sends in Acts 15:3, and in Jerusalem the whole church concurs in Acts 15:22); it’s specifically a council of (apostles and) elders. It is instructive to see that the elders have the same seat (Acts 15:6) and same vote (Acts 15:22) as the apostles.

This brings up an important point. Elders are not only the shepherds of a congregation as a plurality and an established help and accountability to one another throughout a region (as established in Acts 14:23). They are officers of Christ among whose assemblies the mind of Christ more generally may be discovered in discussing and applying the Scriptures.

What are the elders in Jerusalem doing participating in a decision regarding Antioch? Are they apostles? No, it is Christ’s wisdom to establish broader assemblies of His elders for the instruction, help, and accountability of all.

The operation of the synod. Now, note that there is much disputing in Acts 15:7, as there had been in Acts 15:2. But, the portion of the debate that the Spirit preserves for us is theological interpretation of events (Acts 15:7-9, Acts 15:12, Acts 15:18), theological consideration of their own actions (Acts 15:10-11), and corroboration of the theology from specific Scriptures (Acts 15:13-18). It is from this that a specific solution is proposed (Acts 15:19-21) and adopted (Acts 15:22).

Theological interpretation of events (Acts 15:7-9Acts 15:12). God is acknowledged as having chosen to use Peter (Acts 15:7a). God is acknowledged as the One Who uses the preacher’s mouth to give hearing and faith (verse 7b). God is the Knower of the heart and the Testifier to what He has put there (Acts 15:8). What God did to the heart (purifying, Acts 15:9) by the Spirit they had recognized by use of water in baptism (cf. Acts 10:44, Acts 10:47, Acts 11:15–16). And many more such miracles had God done as He saved Gentiles through the ministries of Paul and Barnabas as well (Acts 15:12).

Theological consideration of their own actions (Acts 15:10-11). Peter urges them not just to consider the issue as a question of what to do, but an active/living engagement with God. It would be testing God to demand circumcision (Acts 15:10), just as it would have been resisting God to withhold the water in Cornelius’s house (Acts 10:44–48, Acts 11:16–17). And it is trusting God for their own salvation that keeps them from resting upon circumcision, so also they must teach the Gentiles to trust God rather than circumcision (Acts 15:11).

Corroboration of the theology from specific Scripture (Acts 15:13-18). James now summarizes what Simon said, but even apostolic testimony in the council of apostles and elders stands only as affirmed by the Scriptures. So he quotes from Amos 9:11–12. When God saves a remnant from Israel (Acts 15:16, cf. Amos 9:11), He will give the same salvation to the nations and even call them by His own Name (Acts 15:17, cf. Amos 9:12). Note that the “nations” called by Yahweh’s Name (Acts 15:17, cf. Amos 9:12) are a remnant who are called out (Acts 15:14). 

So, what Peter has observed in Acts 15:11 is precisely what Amos had prophesied, because God uses His Scriptures to prepare the way for His coming works (Acts 15:18). 

The outcome of the synod. The question of circumcision is answered. They won’t test God or insist on something that would compete with either Christ for salvation or baptism as the outward testimony of the Spirit’s inward work. And they won’t trouble them with the yoke that even the Jews were unable to bear (Acts 15:19, cf. Acts 15:10).

What they do require are two ways in which their new hearts from Christ will stand out most against their culture (Acts 15:20a). Idol-temple worship and its fellowship feasts were the social center of their culture, but they were to refuse to participate rather than accommodate the idolatry. Sexual immorality was rampant in the Greek culture of the Gentile world, so they must abstain from it. 

And they draw covenantal requirements not from the Mosaic administration of the covenant of grace, but from the Noahic administration, from which all nations had come. This is what is behind the prohibition against meat that has been strangled or otherwise still has the blood in it (verse 20b, cf. Genesis 9:4). 

Believers from the Mosaic administration had a perpetual and consistent witness to the cultures around them (Acts 15:21). Christians’ witness in their culture should be at least as perpetual and consistent as the Mosaic witness has been. 

Finally, the apostles and elders approve this proposal (Acts 15:22), and the whole church submits to and carries it out. The gospel has been defended; God has been interacted with sincerely, and wisdom and love have been exercised toward the church. Hallelujah!

What should a Synod consider or decide? How should it go about doing so? Who should participate? What should the churches do? Who can bring the church into a condition in which these things are biblically done? Besides praying to Him, how can you encourage the church to operate this way?

Sample prayer:  Lord, grant unto our own synod that it would pursue and fulfill only those duties that You give to synods in Your Word. Grant unto the elders wisdom and grace from Your Spirit for all of their deliberations. Make them to be conscientious in engaging You, and to be directed entirely by Your Word, we ask in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP197 “Christian Unity” or TPH404 “The Church’s One Foundation”

Friday, October 21, 2022

Christ Set Forth as God: God's Righteousness Triply Displayed [2022.10.19 Midweek Sermon in Romans 3:25–26]


In Christ's fully atoning work, God displayed the greatness of His righteousness, the very righteousness that is accounted to those who believe in Jesus.

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2022.10.21 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 25:1–9

Read Exodus 25:1–9

Questions from the Scripture text: Who spoke to whom in Exodus 25:1? To whom is he to speak (Exodus 25:2)? What are they to bring? In what manner? What three things in Exodus 25:3? What four things in Exodus 25:4? What three things in Exodus 25:5? What two things in Exodus 25:6? For what? What two things in Exodus 25:7? For what? What is all of this for constructing (Exodus 25:8)? Why? According to what shall they make it (Exodus 25:9)? 

What is the greatest need of those who have been brought into covenant with God? Exodus 25:1–9 looks forward to the p.m. sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these nine verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that when God comes near to us, it is according to His Word, according to His design, and according to His provision.

The Lord had commanded Moses to come up to Him on the mountain and receive Yahweh’s own written instructions to teach Israel (Exodus 24:12). Now, the first thing that He tells Moses (Exodus 25:1) is that He is to speak to the children of Israel (Exodus 25:2). One of the great themes of the tabernacle construction will be how all is to be done exactly as Yahweh says, to the minutest detail. 

These written instructions apparently included a diagram of how the tabernacle would correspond to a heavenly reality that already existed (Exodus 25:9, cf. Hebrews 9:23–24). The word for ‘pattern’ refers to a shape or model. And Hebrews 9:23–24 tells us that heaven itself and the heavenly things are the reality after which this pattern was modeled.

Not only the pattern, but also the provision for the tabernacle, are specified by God’s own writing. Both the means of provision and the material to be provided are specified.

The means is freewill offering. It would be a mistake to think that tithes, which later are collected regularly according to the law, are spiritually incompatible with freewill giving. Here, for the initial construction of the tabernacle, the contribution (“offering” in Exodus 25:2) is brought “willingly with his heart.” This heart-willingness was required for contribution. Such was the manner of God’s provision for the tabernacle. We say “God’s” provision, and not theirs, because a willing heart is something that only God can give.

The material provided includes particular precious metals (Exodus 25:3), fabrics (Exodus 25:4), skins and wood (Exodus 25:5), oil and spices (Exodus 25:6), and precious stones (Exodus 25:7). The Lord does not invite them to bring whatever they might like. They are to bring the contributions willingly, but He Himself specifies what they are to bring.

The word translated “dwell” in Exodus 25:8 isn’t one of the ordinary words for “stay” or “sojourn” but very specifically a word from the Hebrew root for “tent.” They are to make Yahweh a place of holiness (“sanctuary,” verse 8) for Him to tent among them. Similarly, “dwelt” in John 1:14 is from the Greek root for “tent.” This clues us into the original after which this tabernacle is patterned: Christ Himself.

Christ is our tabernacle, Who offered Himself willingly. He Who is God became flesh for us and consecrated Himself in order that we might be made holy unto God (cf. John 17:19). Whenever we bring the most costly things that the Lord asks of us, and do so with willingness, we partake of Christ’s character and glorify Him who did this perfectly.

It is no wonder, then, that all had to be exactly according to the pattern that God gave Moses. Man cannot devise or design that which would imitate the eternal Son and His redemptive work. And if he attempted to do so, it would have been tantamount to trying to be near to God’s presence without Christ.

What are some things that the Lord has specifically commanded/required of us for His worship? With what sort of heart do you tend to offer such things? What else is necessary for God’s work that you have an opportunity to contribute? Who has made the great contribution that brings you near God? How does this comfort and encourage you? How does it provoke and motivate you?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for offering Yourself willingly to be the Holy One in Whom God has dwelt among us. Make us to behold Your glory, both knowing that Your offering is counted as our righteousness, and responding by gladly giving all that we are for all that You ask of us, for we ask it in Your Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP73C “Yet Constantly, I Am with You” or TPH332 “Songs of Thankfulness and Praise”

Thursday, October 20, 2022

An Important Doctrine: the Good Works of Graced Men by Which Christ Oversees His Church on Earth [Family Worship lesson in 1Timothy 3:1–2]

What should an overseer be? 1Timothy 3:1–2 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that overseers must be of such character and attributes as to be ready and equipped for a good work.
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2022.10.20 Hopewell @Home ▫ 1 Timothy 3:1–2

Read 1 Timothy 3:1–2

Questions from the Scripture text: How does 1 Timothy 3:1 begin? What may a man desire? What type of work is this? What is the first qualification for this good work (1 Timothy 3:2)? What is the second? The third? Of what sort of mind? What behavior? What sixth characteristic? With what skill/aptitude?  

What should an overseer be? 1 Timothy 3:1–2 looks forward to the second serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that overseers must be of such character and attributes as to be ready and equipped for a good work.

The qualifications of an elder are an important point of doctrine. This isn’t just a “how-to” for having a nicely running church. 1 Timothy 3:1 begins by telling us that “this is a faithful saying.” This is part of that sound theology upon which Timothy must insist if the backsliding in Ephesus is going to be reversed. Because there is so much diversity (not a good thing!) in the organization/authority structure of congregations today, we might foolishly conclude that this is a matter of indifference or tolerance or lack of clarity in Scripture. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. 

The position of a bishop is one of beneficial activity. In that position, one is called to “a good work.” He must exert himself in laboring for the good of the flock. The overseer (“bishop”) is in a position of authority, but he is to focus upon the purpose and labor that belong to his position. This is why the qualifications are primarily character qualifications and not effectiveness qualifications. There are many ways that a household could be kept in check (cf. 1 Timothy 3:4). The qualified man will be doing so by being a man of certain qualities (1 Timothy 3:2) and by not being a man of certain defects (1 Timothy 3:3).  Thus, he will demonstrate these qualities in his home (1 Timothy 3:4-5), in the church (1 Timothy 3:6), and in the community (1 Timothy 3:7).

Blameless. Above reproach. Nothing in his manner or conduct gives accusers something to latch onto. Such a man might be unfairly slandered, and it would require investigation to clear him. Another man might have a good reputation, but it isn’t particularly well-deserved; those who are closer to him have legitimate concerns. The qualified man maintains his integrity.

A one-woman man. He is committed to monogamous marriage, and especially to his own, if he is married. He is faithful, honors marriage, and is committed to the purity of the marriage bed.

Temperate. This is a man who does not indulge his senses in his tastes and habits. He doesn’t live for pleasures of the body. He lives for the deeper, lasting, steady joy of the Lord. He is a serious (not the same as “somber”) person. Earnest not superficial, and steady not always coming with something new.

Sober-minded. The word means that he is controlled by wisdom. He learns and grows. He is a theologically principled man, not a pragmatist who changes with the situations, nor an impulsive man who changes with his feelings or inclinations.

Of good behavior. The inner goodness of the man is actually worked out in the things that he does.

Hospitable. Literally, a friend of strangers. The sort of person who helps according to his ability in a way that exposes his desire to be a help and refreshment to others.

Able to teach. This is someone who has been taught, who doesn’t just know truth but has mastered it in its connections and proportions and has skill in building others up in the same. There are some (cf. 1 Timothy 5:17) who are better at this than others, but all elders must have this. Teaching is the great part of shepherding, which is the good work that is a function of this office.

Not all are called to be elders, but growing by the grace of Christ and by knowing Christ ought to grow a Christian man in that direction. Indeed, the longer a man is a Christian, the more he ought to be filling out the profile that 1 Timothy 3:2 has begun to sketch. A man who is not has good reason to tremble at the condition of his soul.

What character qualities in this list do you most need to work on? Which ones seem to be most lacking in the churches and in their leadership? How are you praying/laboring to see this improve?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for giving us Christ to be our Chief Overseer and Shepherd. Forgive us for how much our own characters fall short of His. Grant unto us undershepherds that are qualified according to Your Word and good examples to the flock, for we ask it in Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

 Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH1B “How Blest the Man” 

Wednesday, October 19, 2022

God Alone Has True Power, Which He Exercises Especially by His Word [Family Worship lesson in 2Kings 5:1–14]

Where do life and power come from? 2Kings 5:1–14 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that from God alone come life and power, which He gives especially by His Word.
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2022.10.19 Hopewell @Home ▫ 2 Kings 5:1–14

Read 2 Kings 5:1–14

Questions from the Scripture text: About whom does 2 Kings 5:1 speak? What was his office? Over whom? For whom? What sort of man was he in the king’s eyes? Why? Who had used him? What also was he? Despite what condition? What had the Syrians done (2 Kings 5:2)? Whom had they brought back? From where? Before whose face was she? To whom does the girl speak (2 Kings 5:3)? What did she desire for whom? Why? Who goes to the king in 2 Kings 5:4? What does he say? What does the king command him to do in 2 Kings 5:5? What will the king do? What does Naaman take with him? What else does he bring (2 Kings 5:6)? What does the letter tell the king of Israel to do? Who reads the letter (2 Kings 5:7)? What does he do? What does he ask? What does he conclude the king of Syria is doing? Who hears what in 2 Kings 5:8? What does verse 8 call him? To whom does he send? What does he ask? What does he request? What will Naaman know, when he comes to him? What does Naaman take with him in 2 Kings 5:9? Where does he go? What does he do there? Who actually speaks to Naaman (2 Kings 5:10)? What does he tell him to do? Where? What two results does he promise? How does Naaman feel about this (2 Kings 5:11)? Whom had he expected to come out? How did he expect Elisha to speak to Whom? What else did he expect Elisha to do? What two things does he name in 2 Kings 5:12? To what does he compare them? What question does he ask? Then what does he do? In what frame of mind? Who come near in 2 Kings 5:13? What do they do? What do they call Naaman? What do they say he would have done if told? What do they suggest that he should do now? What does Naaman now do (2 Kings 5:14)? Where? According to what? With what result? To what extent? How does v14 summarize it?

Where do life and power come from? 2 Kings 5:1–14 looks forward to the first serial reading in morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these fourteen verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that from God alone come life and power, which He gives especially by His Word.

Where are greatness and honor found? The Spirit introduces Naaman as being great and honorable in the eyes of his master because of the military victories over which he had presided. But the way the Spirit puts it implies that this esteem was misplaced. Naaman was just an instrument. It was Yahweh Who had given victory to Syria.

For all of Naaman’s (and Syria’s) “greatness,” it was the captured, enslaved young girl who knew where real greatness is found: the prophet, the living servant of the Word of God. When we come back to consider all of the “stuff” Naaman takes with him in 2 Kings 5:5, we’ll find that Yahweh Himself is a greater abundance (2 Kings 5:16).

Yahweh is also a greater power. Naaman is so offended in 2 Kings 5:11. There he was with all of his riches, and decked out in full military greatness in 2 Kings 5:9, standing at the door of Elisha’s house. And it’s just the servant that comes to the door?! And all he has is a message with instructions and a promise?! 

But that’s the point. If Elisha had come as expected, it would still have just been the servant that had come to the door. The prophet is nothing. His God is everything. And the message of his God in his mouth is everything. When Naaman finally follows the instructions (2 Kings 5:14, cf. 2 Kings 5:10), he receives the healing. And not just physical healing; “clean” is a ceremonial reference to acceptability with man and God. The answer to the rhetorical question in 2 Kings 5:12 is actually, “No, they are not better. No, you could not wash in them and be clean.”

But Naaman isn’t the saddest spiritual case in our passage. The king of Israel is letting the people of Israel get captured and enslaved, even though he knows that God could do something about it (2 Kings 5:7). But he doesn’t care to seek God, and it doesn’t even occur to him to send Naaman to the prophet. Even with theological truth about God in his head, the thought of actually engaging with God in reality just doesn’t cross his mind. All he can see is the supposed political/military shenanigans of his counterpart in Damascus. At the end of the passage Naaman knows “that there is a prophet in Israel,” but the king does not.

How many “Christians” live like this! At least the spiritually lifeless king knew that government can’t heal disease. Many church members actually think that’s a function of government. Even worse are the untold millions who say “Lord, Lord,” but they don’t live as subjects of a Master, looking to His every word. He just rarely occurs to them. There are many other things that they honor as great, with which their minds are occupied. And in the last day, they will hear, “Depart from Me, I never knew you.” O, dear reader, may the Lord grant to you that you would know Christ as the Prophet in Israel!

What are you willing to spend time on? Money? Effort? What does this say about what you honor as great?

Sample prayer: Lord, forgive us for sharing the mindset of the king of Syria, the king of Israel, and Naaman before You converted him. Too often, other things occupy our thoughts and our attention, while You and Your Word are ideas detached from ordinary life. Forgive us! And make us to know Christ as our Prophet, from Whom we receive Your words of eternal life, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP1 “How Blessed the Man” or TPH273 “Break, Thou the Bread of Life”

Tuesday, October 18, 2022

Theology Simply Explained — WSC57 (2) — 4th Commandment Living: 6 Creation/Redemption Days Shaped by 1 Creator/Redeemer Day

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 57—especially showing them how the proper mindset in the six days must be formed by the proper practice of the Lord’s Day. WSC57: Which is the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment is, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
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God Makes Us to Remember Him by Teaching Us to Ask Him to Remember Us [Family Worship lesson in Psalm 70]

What can ‘helpless’ believers under attack pray? Psalm 70 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that for believers, who know Who God is and what He will do for them, the right way to pray is often “make haste!”
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2022.10.18 Hopewell @Home ▫ Psalm 70

Read Psalm 70

Questions from the Scripture text: Into whose hands was this Psalm committed (superscript)? Who wrote it? What does the Psalm aim to do? What basic request is made twice in Psalm 70:1a, b? What two things is he asking God to make haste to do? By what two Names does he call Him? What three things are the enemy in Psalm 70:2-3 doing? What five things does David ask God to do to them? By what two activities are the people in Psalm 70:4 identified? What three things does he ask these godly ones to be enabled to do? Among the godly what is his own condition (Psalm 70:5a)? What request does he repeat in verse 5b? In what form will the two requests from Psalm 70:1 be fulfilled (Psalm 70:5c, cf. Psalm 70:1a, b)? What final request does he make in Psalm 70:5d?

What can ‘helpless’ believers under attack pray? Psalm 70 looks forward to the opening portion of morning public worship on the coming Lord’s Day. In these five  verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that for believers, who know Who God is and what He will do for them, the right way to pray is often “make haste!” 

The Spirit has titled this a Psalm of “causing remembrance.” In it, David is crying out for God to remember—to act in a manner consistent with His character and His promises. Since we know that God is true to Himself and to His Word, praying for His remembrance of us in our distress is actually a means by which He reminds us of His character and promises. Specifically, David is asking God to take action with regard to himself, with regard to his enemies, and with regard to believers.

David’s request that God take action with regard to himself is the main request of the Psalm. David needs deliverance and help (Psalm 70:1), and the Lord Himself is that deliverance and help (Psalm 70:5). This, David already knows. So, the form of the request isn’t so much “deliver me and help me” as, “Make haste!” This plea actually appears only once, at the end of Psalm 70:1: “God, to deliver me—Yahweh, to help me—make haste!” Then Psalm 70:5 concludes the Psalm with another request to “make haste” with the added plea, “O Yahweh, do not delay.”

We might have thought it irreverent to ask God to hurry, and if we did so by venting our own spirit it would be. But God has given us His own Word by which to ask Him to hurry. He has put that into our heart and into our mouth, which enables us to make holy cries for divine hastening. 

In Psalm 70:2-3, David requests that God take action with regard to his enemies. They are seeking his life, desiring his hurt, and ridiculing him. David asks that they be ashamed, confounded, thwarted in confusion, and returned to their place in shame. All of these things will indeed happen. The Lord is patiently restraining His hand from wrath for many good reasons (cf. Romans 9:22–23). The wicked think themselves safe, but they shall be suddenly and devastatingly proved wrong. The believer knows this, but it is a helpful reminder to him, when he calls upon God to remember and act.

In Psalm 70:4, David requests that God take action with regard to other believers, those who seek God and love His salvation. It is God’s plan and promise that these will have fullness of joy in God’s presence and pleasures at God’s right hand forevermore (Psalm 70:4a, cf. Psalm 16:11). It is their destiny to magnify and praise God forever (Psalm 70:4b–c, cf. Psalm 73:26–28). Those who rejoice over God and love to praise His salvation are much strengthened and gladdened by new occasions to praise that salvation. As David prays that God would give them occasions for praise, he remembers that God indeed will do so.

The Psalm ends with David still asking God to hurry. The situation has not changed, and David is still “poor and needy.” But the Psalm itself has not just given him words by which to ask God to remember. This Spirit-given prayer and song has brought God’s remembering to David’s remembrance. And we may hope that the Spirit would use it to do so in us and for us as well.

What situation has you needing to remember that God remembers? What do you hope the lovers of God will end up doing in response to your situation? How is that shaping the way you pray?

Sample prayer:  Lord, You are our Help and our Deliverer. By Your grace, we seek You; help us to seek You more. Make us to rejoice and be glad in You. By Your grace, we love Your salvation; make us to love Your salvation more. Today, and forever, make us to say continually, “Let God be magnified!” In Jesus’s Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP70 “Hasten, God, My Rescue” or TPH559 “The Lord’s Prayer”

Monday, October 17, 2022

The God Who Brings Us Immanently Near to His Transcendent Glory [2022.10.16 Evening Sermon in Exodus 24:12–18]


The Lord brought Moses so very near to His very great glory, but in Christ and by His Spirit, believers come even nearer to a greater expression of God's glory.

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Christ's Ordained Way of Making and Gathering Disciples [2022.10.16 Morning sermon in Acts 14:21–28]


The Lord makes and gathers disciples by preaching, follow-up, sessions, presbyteries, and congregations.

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Diaconal Expression of Grace in the Noahic Administration of the Covenant of Grace [2022.10.16 Sabbath School in the Biblical Theology of the Diaconate series]

The progression of the covenant of grace includes progressive expression of that grace in material provision and creation care—both from the God of grace and imaged in the people of grace.
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Theology Simply Explained — WSC57, The Fourth Commandment: Training for Delighting in Jesus

Pastor walks his children through Westminster Shorter Catechism question 57—especially equipping them to show from Scripture how so far from being abrogated in Christ, this commandment is especially for Christians. WSC57: Which is the fourth commandment? The fourth commandment is, Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labor, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it.
(click here to DOWNLOAD mp3/pdf files of this lesson)

Three Demonstrations in the Gospel that Drive Us to Christ for Righteousness [Family Worship lesson in Romans 3:25–26]

What was being exhibited at the cross? Romans 3:25–26 looks forward to the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that in Christ’s fully atoning work, God displayed the greatness of His righteousness, the very righteousness that is accounted to those who believe in Jesus.
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2022.10.17 Hopewell @Home ▫ Romans 3:25–26

Read Romans 3:25–26

Questions from the Scripture text: Who set forth Whom (Romans 3:25)? As what? By what? Through what is this propitiation applied? To demonstrate what? What attribute of God had necessitated this demonstration? What had He done in His forbearance? Which sins had He passed over? At what time did demonstration occur (Romans 3:26)? What was demonstrated? What two things was He in this righteousness? Of whom? 

What was being exhibited at the cross? Romans 3:25–26 looks forward to the sermon in the midweek prayer meeting. In these two verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that in Christ’s fully atoning work, God displayed the greatness of His righteousness, the very righteousness that is accounted to those who believe in Jesus.

The gospel is, in some respects, a matter of “Show and Tell.” We read back in Romans 1:17 that in it the righteousness of God is revealed. And then more recently in Romans 3:21, we read that “now the righteousness of God apart from the law is revealed.” In the two verses now before us, the Spirit emphasizes three aspects of God’s glorious righteousness that is revealed and offered to us in the gospel: Christ Jesus, Propitiation, and Justness.

Christ Jesus (Romans 3:24) is the One Whom God “set forth as a propitiation.” This word means that Jesus has completely satisfied the wrath of God so that all that is left is the favor of God. He has made God entirely propitious toward all Who are in Him. The phrase “set forth” is borrowed from the language of the judicial trial and refers to exhibiting something as evidence. In this case, it is Christ Who is exhibited as a propitiation.

But what does His propitiating demonstrate about Him? That He is as valuable as the glory of God. It is the glory of God against which man has sinned in unrighteousness and ungodliness. And it is this sin against God’s glory against which His wrath has been revealed (Romans 3:18)? What could atone for offense that is as great as the glory of God? The answer is that Christ Jesus can. By His full atonement (propitiation), Christ Jesus is exhibited to be as glorious as God. For He is, of course, God. 

Propitiation itself is a display of God’s righteousness because He had exercised forbearance and not poured out His wrath against the sins of believers previously committed. But those who had believed (“through faith,” Romans 3:25) have now been fully atoned for by Jesus’s blood. God has not compromised His justice at all. The righteousness of God that we get in the gospel is an absolute, perfect, uncompromised righteousness.

Finally, God demonstrates His righteousness not only with respect to past believers but also at the present time. When one believes in Jesus now, he knows that God is just, for He has demanded and executed already full punishment of sin. A believer knows that this justice means that, apart from Christ, God would display that justness by punishing Him forever in Hell. But a believer also knows that the justness of God is also demonstrated by declaring to be righteous whoever has faith in Jesus. And it is this very justness of God, this very righteousness of God, that is counted as one’s own when he believes in Jesus.

How do you respond, in your life, to the glory of Jesus? How does God’s righteousness at the cross encourage you about your standing before Him? Who should not be encouraged by it?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for displaying Christ, Your uncompromised justness at the cross, and Your justness in justifying those who believe in Christ. Grant that we would do so and thus know ourselves to be reckoned as having Your perfect righteousness, which we ask in Christ’s own Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP32AB “What Blessedness” or TPH435 “Not What My Hands Have Done”

Saturday, October 15, 2022

2022.10.15 Hopewell @Home ▫ Acts 14:21–28

Read Acts 14:21–28

Questions from the Scripture text: What had they done in Derbe (Acts 14:21)? What did they make by this preaching? How many? To where do they return? What are they doing (Acts 14:22)? To whom? Strengthening what of theirs? In what were they exhorting them to continue? Through what must they enter the kingdom? How many? Whose kingdom? How sure is this entering? Through where did they pass to where in Acts 14:24? Then what did they do where (Acts 14:25)? Before going down to where? From there, where did they sail (Acts 14:26)? What had been done to them there? For what? What is the status of the work? What do they do when they come (Acts 14:27)? What do they do with the gathered church? Whom do they say has done the work? How do they describe what He did? What did they do after this report (Acts 14:28)?

How does the first great missionary journey conclude? Acts 14:21–28 looks forward to the morning sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these eight verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that the first great missionary journey concluded with strengthening follow-up, the ordaining of a presbytery, and return/report to the sending church. 

Strengthening follow-upActs 14:21–22. The description of the ministry in Derbe is succinct: they preached the gospel and made many disciples. They then follow up with all of the disciples that the Lord had made in the area “strengthening [their] souls” (Acts 14:22). This strengthening had two components. First, they exhorted them to continue (to remain, abide, persist) in the faith. This exhortation would be necessary if the “only” opposition that we were facing was our own remaining sin. But it is all the more necessary because of the truth about the reality of the Christian life in this world.

The telling of that truth is the second part of the strengthening. It may not sound strengthening to say that we will have many tribulations. But, it would be far worse to tell someone that the Christian life will be easy, if it will actually be full of tribulations. And, it is a great encouragement to know that these tribulations come in the wisely, lovingly determined providence of God. Furthermore, the word translated “must” does refer to something that is absolutely necessary. If they are believers, if they are disciples, then they must enter the kingdom of God. It is certain. He Who started the work will complete it. Glorious encouragement!

Ordaining of a presbyteryActs 14:23. Why wait to appoint elders until there were congregations (“church” in verse 23) in four cities, and possibly several in each? One reason is so that the elders of the congregations in the regions will have a mutual accountability, and none of them will have primacy. When we get to chapter 15, we will find elders on the same footing as apostles in the general synod/assembly that occurs. Mutual accountability and collaboration by a plurality of elders in a region had already been established, apparently, in Judea. 

And mutual accountability and collaboration by a plurality of elders in a region was established here as the form of church government among the congregations of the first great (apostolic!) missionary journey. A second reason is related: because it is God’s way of shepherding His church. These elder appointments are not because the churches are in the care of the elders, but because they are in the care of God Whose appointed method is the elders. Thus we see the praying to the Lord, fasting before the Lord, and commending them to the Lord in Whom they had believed (Acts 14:23). This began as the Lord’s work (cf. Acts 14:26 and “commended to the grace of God”), and it would continue as His work in their absence.

Returning and reportingActs 14:24-28. They had been commended to God’s grace in Antioch in Acts 13:2–3. Undoubtedly, Simeon, Lucius, Manaen, and the congregation there had been praying for them and would be eager to learn how things went. Now, Paul and Barnabas make their way back, preaching as they go (Acts 14:25). They gather the congregation together in Acts 14:27, and report. Note that it was not a report on what they had done but about “all that God had done with them” (verse 27). He was the One Who “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.” The implication is that the congregation was gathered for worship, and testimony to what God had done was offered unto the glory and praise of the God Who did it. When we send and pray, we are participants in ministry. And, when the Lord blesses it, we have the privilege of participating in praising Him for that ministry.

What tribulations are you going through? How does this passage strengthen you in them? How has Jesus chosen to shepherd His church on earth? Whom has He specifically selected for you? In whose ministry are you participating? For what sort of fruit do you hope to participate in praising God?

Sample prayer:  Lord, thank You for the mission of Your saving work that has extended to saving us. Grant that we would have strength to persist in the faith and to participate in Your mission work. Make us to submit to Your Word and Your ways in Christ’s church, which we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP23B “The Lord’s My Shepherd” or TPH231 “Whate’er My God Ordains Is Right” 

Friday, October 14, 2022

The Immanent Nearness and Transcendent Glory of Our God [Family Worship lesson in Exodus 24:12–18]

What does God show about Himself as He summons Moses to receive the Ten Commandments and other instruction? Exodus 24:12–18 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God is a personal lawgiver and a glorious lawgiver.
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2022.10.14 Hopewell @Home ▫ Exodus 24:12–18

Read Exodus 24:12–18

Questions from the Scripture text: To whom does Yahweh speak in Exodus 24:12? To Whom does He tell him to go? Where? Who will give Moses what? What is on them? Who wrote them? What must Moses do with them? Who arise in Exodus 24:13? Who goes up where? To whom does Moses speak as they leave (Exodus 24:14)? What does he tell them to do? Whom does he leave behind? For what situation? Who goes where in Exodus 24:15? What happens to the mountain? What covers it? What rests upon it (Exodus 24:16)? For how long? On what day does what happen? What is displayed (Exodus 24:17)? What does it look like? In whose eyes? In what two ways is Moses’s ascent in Exodus 24:18 described? How long was Moses on the mountain? 

What does God show about Himself as He summons Moses to receive the Ten Commandments and other instruction? Exodus 24:12–18 looks forward to the evening sermon on the coming Lord’s Day. In these seven verses of Holy Scripture, the Holy Spirit teaches us that God is a personal lawgiver and a glorious lawgiver.

God is a personal lawgiver, Exodus 24:12–15. After the covenanting ceremony, the elders can come no nearer, but Yahweh tells Moses to come nearer. But it is not just proximity to a place (“on the mountain,” Exodus 24:12; “up to the mountain,” Exodus 24:13; “up into the mountain,” Exodus 24:15; “up into the mountain,” Exodus 24:18) but proximity to a Person (“Come up to me,” Exodus 24:12; “the mountain of God,” Exodus 24:13).

God, of course, is everywhere. Being is inherent to Him, and it is impossible for something else “to be” apart from His presence. But He makes His presence particularly known in particular places and times. So he tells Moses, “Come up to Me […] and be there.” Additionally, Yahweh will personally give Moses tablets of stone. And it will be Yahweh Who has personally written His law and commandments. These are not just user’s manual instructions or legal terms of a distant deity. God’s law is His personal instruction. In fact, the “torah” has as its base denotation the sense of “fatherly instruction.”

God is a glorious lawgiverExodus 24:16-18. There is a strong emphasis upon “glory” here. You may have heard the term “Shekinah glory.” That word is form the word translated “rested” in Exodus 24:16. It is the abiding glory that would rest upon the tabernacle and temple, and now it persists upon the mountain. The “cloud” here cannot be thought of as a cloud of darkness or gray ether but a cloud of glory. 

Yahweh calls Moses from the midst of the glory-cloud (Exodus 24:16), and Moses goes into the midst of the glory-cloud (Exodus 24:17). Verse 17 describes how the glory cloud appeared to the children of Israel as “a consuming fire on the top of the mountain.” 

For all this nearness to which He calls Moses, God does not diminish His transcendence in the slightest. It is important to see how His nearness and His glory go hand in hand. Who has had a nearer experience of God than Moses on the mountain or Isaiah in the vision of Isaiah 6? There are those who take a casual posture in prayer or worship, who are thought of as knowing God quite nearly, but this doesn’t disclose nearness to God; it exposes a lack of any true nearness to Him.

It is this glorious, holy, awesome God Who now personally instructs Moses for forty days and forty nights. In this time, between here and the end of chapter 31, He focuses almost entirely upon the tabernacle and the priesthood, and then gives Moses the two tablets of stone, written with the finger of God. That is to say: the people’s ability to be so near to such a glorious God is the great goal of the instruction.

In what times and places and ways does God present Himself as most objectively near? How are you to perceive and respond to His glory at such times? What changes might you make to follow this more faithfully?

Sample prayer: Lord, thank You for granting unto us to perceive Your glory and to come near You safely through Jesus Christ. Forgive us for taking this lightly or coming before You casually. Make us to know both Your greatness and Your forgiving us in Christ, we ask in His Name, AMEN!

Suggested songs: ARP205 “The Praises of Heaven and Earth “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah”