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John 6:34-36

Seeing Is Not Believing

34 Then said they unto him, Lord, evermore give us this bread. 35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.


Jesus said, "For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world." (v.33)

The crowd's reply to that was, "Lord, evermore give us this bread." (v.34) It is doubtful that they understood what Jesus meant. At best, they were still looking for their bellies to be filled. The manna in the wilderness was said to have satisfied their forefather's every desire.

John Gill, commenting on this verse, reports that, "Josephus says of the "manna", which was a type of this bread, that there was such a divine quality in it, that whoever tasted of it needed nothing else: and the Jews also say, that "in the manna were all kinds of tastes, and everyone of the Israelites tasted all that he desired; for so it is written in Deuteronomy 2:7, "these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee, thou hast lacked nothing", or "not wanted anything"; what is anything? when he desired to eat anything, and said with his mouth, O that I had fat to eat, immediately there was in his mouth the taste of fat.--Young men tasted the taste of bread, old men the taste of honey, and children the taste of oil.''

The people also expected the Messiah to lead them to the garden of Eden where they would be similarly satiated with all of the delicacies of life. These carnal desires were what motivated the crowd to say, "OK! Give us the bread!" The remark was sarcastic, since they did not truly believe that Jesus was the Messiah.

"I am the bread of life." Jesus is not simply the bread that sustains life, like the manna that their fathers had eaten. He is the bread that gives life. Jesus is the bread that can bring vigor back to a soul that is dead in its sin.

"He that cometh to me shall never hunger." To "come" to Christ is a much stronger term than to "believe". He that comes to Christ believes in Him and also embraces Him, becoming one with Him as He is one with the Father (Jn 17:21). This complete and perfect faith in our Lord is how we eat the bread.

Once a person embraces Jesus, he will never desire another... he will never hunger or thirst after any other source of spiritual fulfillment. This does not mean that he will always be satisfied, because, until he comes to rest in His presence, the Christian will always desire more and more of Jesus. The Christian will always be seeking His righteousness, wisdom, and fellowship. Yet, he will not hunger after any other. He will be completely satisfied to have been granted the grace of God through Jesus Christ, our bread of life.

"But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not." While in the wilderness, there were people who ate the manna, tasted its perfect sweetness, were nourished by its content, and yet complained about their situation. They had the miracles but did not believe, did not come through faith to embrace the God who had delivered them from bondage. The crowd surrounding Jesus was no different. They had seen Him and the miracles that He had performed but they did not believe. They remained hungry.

Before The Throne:

An intellectual understanding that Jesus exists and that He is the Son of God is not sufficient faith to deliver you from condemnation. You must embrace Him and become one with Him. Pray for that unity. Feed on the bread of life, absorb His energy and His zeal for the kingdom of God. Take on His purpose, which was to do nothing except the will of His Father. Ask God to give you the same mind, which is in Christ Jesus. You shall never hunger or thirst again.

For Further Study:

(v.34)
** evermore. Jn 4:15; Ps 4:6;

(v.35) ** I am. 1Cor 10:16-18; 11:23-29; ** he that cometh. Jn 5:40; 7:37; Isa 55:1-3; Mt 11:28; Rev 22:17; ** never hunger. Jn 4:13,14; 7:38; Isa 49:10; Luk 6:25; Rev 7:16;

(v.36) ** That. Jn 12:37; 15:24; Luk 16:31; 1Pet 1:8,9;

THE GOSPEL IN GENESIS: The Consolation

THE CONSOLATION

"He will comfort us." Genesis 5:29


Thus speaks the patriarch Lamech. Such is his voice of joy, when he receives his first-born Noah. He was tilling a soil hardened by the curse—fruitful only in thorns and thistles. But now a son is given to share the painfulness of his daily toil. Cheered by this hope, he calls his name Noah, which has the meaning of Rest or Comfort. Reader! in these simple pages there is but one thing sought: the best good of undying souls. Therefore I examine not whether this name was designed as another ray of the coming Savior. I rather proceed to realities, which all experience. I rather turn to tidings, which are bright on the Gospel surface.

I first state a fact, which is ancient as the fall, and wide-spread as man. It is this—A sinful world is a tearful world. Wherever we stand, our shadow is sorrow. It s so before the flood. It is so now. In all climates and ranks, the head is weary, and the heart is sick.

I next state a truth, which came in, as twin-born, with the earliest promise. It is this—Consolation is provided. God has sent forth Christ Jesus from the bosom of His love to be the Consolation of this woe-worn world. It is my longing desire that this heavenly knowledge would more largely shed its pure balm. I mourn that men should drink nothing but the dregs of bitterness, while healing streams flow close beside them. Let me invite you, then, to come with me for a few moments into some of the chambers of earth's grief. I can show you there, with the Spirit helping, that in Jesus Christ there is a pillow for the throbbing brow—a cordial for the fainting spirit—a plank for the sinking—a haven for the tempest-tossed.

I need scarcely say that the heart of misery is misery of heart—the soul of anguish is anguish of soul. But where is the home of this extreme distress? Surely in the breast of him whose conscience is awake to discern the nature—the evil—the wages—of his sins. The nest of self-delusion has now become a bed of thorns. Before his eyes God frowns, dreadful in justice. In his ears the law thunders a tremendous curse. He moves forward, and there is a gaping hell. Shall he stir—the next step may cast him headlong into flames. Shall he sleep—he may awake among the lost. Where can comfort reach a mind thus tortured? It cannot spring from earth. For let the world now present its every charm; how worthless are they! The world has nothing, but for a sin-blinded man. When things are seen as they really are, earthly toys are worse than empty bubbles.

Comfort, to be comfort now, must come from heaven. All is mockery, except it can tell of God reconciled—sin pardoned—the soul safe. Now Jesus can raise out of these lowest depths; and He alone. He can guide the trembler to His cross. He can reveal to him there a heavenly Father, arrayed in glories of eternal love. He can point to His own dying as the death of wrath. He can show the sword of justice sheathed in His own heart—the flames of vengeance quenched in His own blood—the hand, that was uplifted to strike, now extended to bless—all hell piled upon the Guiltless, and heaven freely given to the guilty! Is not this Consolation? It is! And Jesus pours it from His wounded hands and pierced side!

Is not this, I repeat, Consolation? Ask those who have tasted it. Ask the jailor. Terror-stricken he sprang in—wrath was at his heels—he heard of Jesus—peace soothed his fears, and he rejoiced, believing in God with all his house. But it occurs, alas! too often, that they who have escaped, as drowning mariners, to this rock, are enticed again to stray. They cease to watch and pray. Then the tempter finds an open door. They neglect the preserving means of grace. Then the foe creeps in. The Spirit is grieved and withdraws. Corruptions regain their power. Woe to backsliders! what wretchedness is theirs! Consciousness of peril returns, and it is embittered by keen self-reproach. They see how basely they have deserted the Friend, who had said to them, while in their blood, Live.

Reader! perhaps this agony is yours. You once had rest in Jesus, but it is gone. The fault is wholly your own. He did not drive you from Him. You have departed from Him. And now you sigh, Oh! that it were with me, as in the days when the Sun of Righteousness shone upon my path. Do not be tearless, for grievous is your fall. But do not be hopeless, for Jesus is yet near. His voice still follows you, "Return, and I will not cause My anger to fall upon you." In nothing is His tenderness more tender, than in stilling the sobs of those who sob in penitence before Him. Return then. The Lord still extends the arms of His pitifulness. He is the balm in Gilead. He is the Physician there. He cannot be silent to the cry, "Restore to me the joy of Your salvation."

There are others who closely cling to the Lord, and yet are disquieted. They gratefully acknowledge, "Hitherto has the Lord helped us;" but heaven seems far off; the pilgrimage is long; adversaries are many; their own strength totters—they look to the winds and waves, and trembling takes hold upon them; they say with David, we shall one day perish by the hand of Saul.

Reader! perhaps you have such heart-felt misgivings. Truly if Jesus were other than He is, you might thus faint. But now I am bold to bid you arise and shake yourself from the dust. Open your eyes and read His heart. It speaks one language. It is all encouragement. It tells of faithful love, which, as it never had beginning, so it can have no end. He draws you to the shelter of His wings, and there stifles each rising doubt by assurances as large as they are free—as gentle as they are countless. He tells you, "Because I live, you shall live also." "Your life is hidden with Christ in God." If you ask richer Consolation, you ask more than God can give.

But afflictions break upon you with ceaseless tide. This is to be expected. It is our common lot. There is no home so lowly, but some sorrow finds the door. There is no palace so upraised, but some sorrow mounts the steps. Faith shields not from this. "In the world you shall have tribulation." But welcome all sorrow, if Jesus enters by its side! This always is so to the true believer. Health may wither like a fading flower; languor and disease may feed upon the frame; there may be tossings to and fro until the dawning of the day. But Jesus can relax with smiles the pain-contracted brow, and charm with songs the wakeful night. Earthly possessions may crumble to decay; poverty may sit where affluence used to smile.

But can the believer's portion fail? Oh, no! he has all the treasures in the word, "The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not lack." Friends may forsake; averted looks may chill. There may be treachery or open hate, where once much love was pretended. Jesus knew this trial in its bitterest form. Hence He is quick to prove that He changes not with the changing world. He magnifies His sympathy by sticking closer than a brother. His own presence more than fills each void within.

But death draws on with rapid step. Yes! it will soon draw back the covers of your bed, and extend an icy hand to bear you there. You will then need strong Consolation. Long-tried props can prop no more. Alone you must go through the dark valley. But not alone! For Jesus whispers, "I am with you. Thus I guide to my many-mansioned home." So the last trial is the last and largest Consolation.

Believer, let me beg you to live and die leaning on Jesus as your Consolation. Would you be expert in this happy state? Make it, then, your daily habit to meditate upon Himself—His promises—His dealings. Hold close communion with Him. Measure the breadth, the length, the depth, the height of His office and His work. Be assured that all that He is, and all that He has, and all that He has done, and all that He is doing, and all that He will do, is yours. You have never been absent from His heart, and never can be. You are a member "of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones." Abide in Him at all seasons, and all seasons will be comfort.

Strike, too, the rock of the promises with the rod of faith. Sweet waters will gush out. They will flow very deep, and very broad, and all within this channel, "Comfort, comfort, my people, says your God." Take frequent walks also by the side of the faithful pilgrims of old. Precious is their companionship. They may be sorrowful, yet they are always rejoicing. They may be homeless wanderers, as Jacob was, yet they are comforted. They may pine long in dungeons and under evil fame, as Joseph did, yet they are comforted. They may be destitute of all things, as Elijah was, yet they are comforted. They may flee for their lives and hide themselves in caves of the earth, as David did, yet they are comforted. They may be in the hottest fire of persecution, as the three captive youths were, yet they are comforted. They may be in all perils, and in the wildest storms, as Paul was; they may be called to bear faithful witness in scoffing crowds, or before frowning tyrants, as this apostle was, yet they are comforted. They may die the martyr's death under showers of crushing stones, as Stephen did, yet they are comforted. They may lose all things, yet they never lose the Consolation, which is in Christ Jesus. It is the work of His Spirit. It is the gift of His grace. It is the token of His indwelling. It is the foretaste of His heaven!

Perhaps the eyes of some rest upon these pages, who are strangers to this deep well-spring of Consolation. Unhappy men! Your hearts are a disconsolate blank. You have been sowing vanity, and what do you now reap? You have made the world your all, what has it given you? If much be obtained, more is coveted. Possessions do not content. Pursuits only weary. This hour is fretfulness. The next is a dreaded abyss. You wander over fields of anxiety, and there is no place of rest. Society is a hollow insipidity. Solitude is a dismal gloom. Where are your comforts? There are none in the retrospect, none in hand, none in the horizon. The past upbraids, the present dissatisfies, the future terrifies! A condemning voice within tells you, that is true. Turn not, then, from the beseeching voice of this page. Be persuaded. Consent, consent to be happy. "Seek the Lord while He may be found." "Take with you words." Plead with Him His office, "The Lord has anointed Me to comfort all that mourn in Zion." Plead with Him His call, "Come unto Me, all you that are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Plead with Him His promise, "I will not leave you comfortless." Plead with Him His title, "The Consolation of Israel." Plead with Him His tender voice, "As one whom his mother comforts, so will I comfort you." Plead with Him the dreadful gulf between the saved and the lost, "Now he is comforted, and you are tormented." Plead with him the command from heaven, "Comfort, comfort my people, says your God." Cease not thus to plead, until you can say of Him, who is far greater than Noah, "This same shall comfort us."

d with favor on Abel and his offering." Genesis 4:4


A long course of years has fled since the earth drank in the blood of Abel. His was the earliest of all graves. But he is not silent in it. His faith has an ever-living voice. No time can stop its warning sound. "By it, he, being dead, yet speaks." Such is the heaven-told fact. Surely then there must be much most worthy of notice in his testimony, since it thus rolls on from age to age. Its subjects must be all-important. It is so—none can be compared to it. It is so—for it proclaims the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of its call to every child of man, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Trust in His blood. Plead nothing but His death before God. Make His cross your only hope.

Reader! perhaps you have never found all this Gospel in Abel's brief life. But it is there. Unfold with me the record; and let us do so in humble prayer, that the Spirit may graciously teach. For without His aid, none ever see the Lord. Abel stands before us in the lovely character of one whose spirit rejoices in God his Savior. This is the prominent feature in his portrait. He selects the firstborn of his flock. He brings it as an offering. He lays it on the altar. He raises the knife. He takes the life, as a debt due to God. Such is his conduct. But what moves him to this mode of worship? He must have some grand intent. Let us trace it.

Did reason convince him that he was a sinner, and show him that, as such, his own life was forfeited? Did it whisper the hope, that he might recover it, by giving another in its place? Did it suggest the idea that the death of a guiltless victim might be the release of a guilty soul? That could not be. A sinner's blindness never suspects the real desert of sin—much less can it imagine a blood-stained ransom. There is God in that thought.

But while we thus inquire, Scripture draws back the veil and tells us the principle, which lived in his heart. It was faith. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." Thus the case is cleared. For faith is trust in God, and humble reliance on His Word. God speaks—and faith hears—believes—obeys. Faith can breathe only in the atmosphere of revelation. It can stand only on the rock of divine promise. It has no ear, but for heavenly tidings. It can read only what the finger of God writes. It can always give a reason, even this, "The mouth of the Lord has spoken it."

We are sure, then, that since Abel offered in faith, he was following the positive directions of God. We are thus led to read many of the workings of his soul in this service. It cannot be, but that his parents had made known to him, in terms of shame, the enormity of their willful fall. Hence he knew how it occurred, that he was born a child of wrath, and an heir of corrupted nature. But could they pause here? Oh! no. Adoring gratitude would constrain them to add that pardon was provided, and that a Redeemer, all-qualified and mighty to save, was coming to lay down His life. They would teach, too, that a holy rite had been ordained by God to exercise faith, and to keep alive the expectation of the atoning lamb. This was the Bible unto Abel. Here he would read the main lessons of the Gospel of salvation. He staggered not through unbelief. He embraced the truth wholly unto life eternal. In the twilight of the world, he saw the Sun of Righteousness.

Reader! does not this bring condemnation to multitudes, who in the full blaze of light never get saving faith? We thus gain insight into the spiritual man of Abel. He stands at this altar, a man of humility—faith—love. He is full of self-abasement. He abhors himself in dust and ashes. His act confesses that he is a lost, and ruined, and undone sinner. He sees that eternal rejection is his due. He feels that he has no power of himself to help himself.

But he is full of faith. In looking off from himself he looks upward to another. He knows, that in the heaven of heavens there lives a Savior ready to fly down with healing in His wings. He sees in the blood of his victim, a pledge of the blood prepared to cleanse him to the very uttermost. He is full, too, of sanctifying love. For no man can trust in mercy so full, so unmerited, so suitable, so effectual, without feeling, that thus purchased from perdition, he must live a willing sacrifice to the God of grace.

At this time there was another by the side of Abel. But now a great gulf parts them. It was his brother Cain. He was born in like guilt. He doubtless shared the same parental instruction. In outward advantages there was no difference. But is their spiritual character the same? Far otherwise. The truth which melts the one, only hardens the other. One receives the blessing. The other abides under the curse. Their dealings with God manifest them. It is a sad sight. But we must not shrink from observing how Cain discovers himself. He seems to come to God. This is good. But what does he bring?—"The fruit of the ground." The first appearance is fair. But the disguise falls; and we see the hideous marks, which prove that he "was of that wicked one."

We find self-will at the root of his religion. God has ordained the way in which He was to be approached. Cain thinks that he can use a course more suited to the majesty of heaven and the dignity of man. He places his puny reason above the counsels of the All-wise. He turns from a revealed will to grope in the darkness of his own vain conceits.

Reader! is not this a pitiful case? But it is the delusion of many. "Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools." Self-will first makes a god—then a religion—and at last a pit of destruction for itself.

We next see pride in him. This must be, for it is the first-born of unenlightened reason. Creation leaves man dust. Sin makes him the vilest of dust. But still he walks vaingloriously, until grace opens his eyes, and lays him low in his proper humility. So it is with Cain. He feels neither sin, nor need of pardon. Therefore he proudly tramples on an offering, which tells him of nature's pollution. High-minded, he will not wash in the blood of the Redeemer, that he may be purified. Thus he is a model of that class, who, in every age, say, "We are rich and have need of nothing; and know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."

There was unbelief, too. God had set before him the redemption of Jesus Christ. It was proclaimed in promise and in type. What more could have been done? But Cain believes not. Unbelief closes his eyes—he will not look to Jesus. It closes his hand—he will not lay hold on Him. It clogs his feet—he will not run to Him. It closes his ear—he will not hear of Him. It closes his mouth—he will not cry unto Him. It closes his heart—he will not receive Him. Do you marvel at his folly? Take heed! Take heed! Conscience may know, "You are the man."

The end is quickly told. Bad soon becomes worse. Unbelief swiftly goes down to its place, where the Gospel is never preached, and hope never comes. God expostulates. Cain yields not. He sees the righteousness of faith, only to hate it. He seeks, by the murder of his faithful brother, to extinguish the light which upbraids him. He falls into the recklessness of despair. And now, from his everlasting chains, he cries, "Beware of rejecting the more excellent sacrifice."

Reader! it may be, that, careful about many things, you have, until now, been careless concerning that which should be the main concern of man. Listen, then, for a moment, I beseech you. Do you not hear a startling question from this story? It is this. Are you a follower of Abel or of Cain? In simpler terms, are you receiving or neglecting the Lord Jesus? I say the Lord Jesus. For this is the real point. He was the end of the "more excellent sacrifice," which Abel brought, which Cain scorned. He is the Lamb appointed by God, accepted of God, and led to our very doors in our Bibles. Who can utter the mighty motives which urge the sinner to avail himself of this sacrifice? They are more than the moments of eternity. Each speaks as loud as the thunders of Sinai. Each has a thrilling clang, as the trumpet of God.

Only consider its real power. It is just this. It saves forever all the souls of all poor sinners, who present it to God in faith. Now, is not your soul precious? It is so beyond all thought. It needs redemption from wrath and ruin. Are you prepared to offer its equal price? Suppose the balances of heaven brought out. What can you place as a counterpoise in the counter-scale? You have nothing, but what is lighter than vanity. Produce now "the more excellent sacrifice." Its worth is beyond all weight. Offer this, and you are saved. Will you now be Cain-like, and reject "the more excellent sacrifice"? Your sins are many. The sands of the sea-shore are few in comparison. But each must be blotted out, or you die. A sin unpardoned cannot enter heaven. What, then, will you do? One thing is clear. You cannot undo the done. You cannot recall the past. But behold "the more excellent sacrifice." It cleanses from all sin. Through it all manner of sin is forgiven to the children of men. It makes the scarlet, white as now, and the crimson, like wool. It changes the vilest into perfect purity. Its merits can render you spotless.

Will you be Cain-like, and reject "the more excellent sacrifice"? You need peace. Satan threatens. The law condemns. Conscience accuses. Your wounds are deep. Your burdens heavy. Memory shows frightful specters. The heart bleeds. You go mourning and heavy laden. You look to self. It is despair. You look to the world. It mocks your woe. You look to reform. It is a broken cistern. You fly to outside performances of devotion. They are reeds, which break and pierce the hand.

How different is "the more excellent sacrifice!" It tells you that God is satisfied, guilt remitted, and all accusers silent. It thus brings peace—perfect peace, which passes all understanding. Will you now be Cain-like, and reject "the more excellent sacrifice"?

You desire sanctification. You pant to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is well; for it is an eternal law of God, that without holiness no man shall see His face. But holiness can be learned only at this altar. It is a sight of the dying Jesus, which kills lust. It is the shadow of the cross, which causes evil to wither. A lover of iniquity cannot dwell on this hallowed ground. But there never was a holy man, who did not live in glory in "the more excellent sacrifice." If ever you would walk with God in true righteousness, you must not be Cain-like, and reject it. But remember this sacrifice is only one. Jesus by the one offering of Himself, once made, "has perfected forever those who are sanctified." Pass by it, and you can find none else. Pass by it today, and you may seek it in vain tomorrow.

Hear, then, the voice of Abel, which calls you without delay to hasten to the one altar of salvation. Reader! turn not from these humble lines, until in truth you can say, I rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, I find Him to be "the more excellent sacrifice."

THE GOSPEL IN GENESIS: The More Excellent Sacrifice

THE MORE EXCELLENT SACRIFICE

"But Abel brought fat portions from some of the firstborn of his flock. The Lord looked with favor on Abel and his offering." Genesis 4:4


A long course of years has fled since the earth drank in the blood of Abel. His was the earliest of all graves. But he is not silent in it. His faith has an ever-living voice. No time can stop its warning sound. "By it, he, being dead, yet speaks." Such is the heaven-told fact. Surely then there must be much most worthy of notice in his testimony, since it thus rolls on from age to age. Its subjects must be all-important. It is so—none can be compared to it. It is so—for it proclaims the Lord Jesus Christ. This is the purpose of its call to every child of man, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved." Trust in His blood. Plead nothing but His death before God. Make His cross your only hope.

Reader! perhaps you have never found all this Gospel in Abel's brief life. But it is there. Unfold with me the record; and let us do so in humble prayer, that the Spirit may graciously teach. For without His aid, none ever see the Lord. Abel stands before us in the lovely character of one whose spirit rejoices in God his Savior. This is the prominent feature in his portrait. He selects the firstborn of his flock. He brings it as an offering. He lays it on the altar. He raises the knife. He takes the life, as a debt due to God. Such is his conduct. But what moves him to this mode of worship? He must have some grand intent. Let us trace it.

Did reason convince him that he was a sinner, and show him that, as such, his own life was forfeited? Did it whisper the hope, that he might recover it, by giving another in its place? Did it suggest the idea that the death of a guiltless victim might be the release of a guilty soul? That could not be. A sinner's blindness never suspects the real desert of sin—much less can it imagine a blood-stained ransom. There is God in that thought.

But while we thus inquire, Scripture draws back the veil and tells us the principle, which lived in his heart. It was faith. "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain." Thus the case is cleared. For faith is trust in God, and humble reliance on His Word. God speaks—and faith hears—believes—obeys. Faith can breathe only in the atmosphere of revelation. It can stand only on the rock of divine promise. It has no ear, but for heavenly tidings. It can read only what the finger of God writes. It can always give a reason, even this, "The mouth of the Lord has spoken it."

We are sure, then, that since Abel offered in faith, he was following the positive directions of God. We are thus led to read many of the workings of his soul in this service. It cannot be, but that his parents had made known to him, in terms of shame, the enormity of their willful fall. Hence he knew how it occurred, that he was born a child of wrath, and an heir of corrupted nature. But could they pause here? Oh! no. Adoring gratitude would constrain them to add that pardon was provided, and that a Redeemer, all-qualified and mighty to save, was coming to lay down His life. They would teach, too, that a holy rite had been ordained by God to exercise faith, and to keep alive the expectation of the atoning lamb. This was the Bible unto Abel. Here he would read the main lessons of the Gospel of salvation. He staggered not through unbelief. He embraced the truth wholly unto life eternal. In the twilight of the world, he saw the Sun of Righteousness.

Reader! does not this bring condemnation to multitudes, who in the full blaze of light never get saving faith? We thus gain insight into the spiritual man of Abel. He stands at this altar, a man of humility—faith—love. He is full of self-abasement. He abhors himself in dust and ashes. His act confesses that he is a lost, and ruined, and undone sinner. He sees that eternal rejection is his due. He feels that he has no power of himself to help himself.

But he is full of faith. In looking off from himself he looks upward to another. He knows, that in the heaven of heavens there lives a Savior ready to fly down with healing in His wings. He sees in the blood of his victim, a pledge of the blood prepared to cleanse him to the very uttermost. He is full, too, of sanctifying love. For no man can trust in mercy so full, so unmerited, so suitable, so effectual, without feeling, that thus purchased from perdition, he must live a willing sacrifice to the God of grace.

At this time there was another by the side of Abel. But now a great gulf parts them. It was his brother Cain. He was born in like guilt. He doubtless shared the same parental instruction. In outward advantages there was no difference. But is their spiritual character the same? Far otherwise. The truth which melts the one, only hardens the other. One receives the blessing. The other abides under the curse. Their dealings with God manifest them. It is a sad sight. But we must not shrink from observing how Cain discovers himself. He seems to come to God. This is good. But what does he bring?—"The fruit of the ground." The first appearance is fair. But the disguise falls; and we see the hideous marks, which prove that he "was of that wicked one."

We find self-will at the root of his religion. God has ordained the way in which He was to be approached. Cain thinks that he can use a course more suited to the majesty of heaven and the dignity of man. He places his puny reason above the counsels of the All-wise. He turns from a revealed will to grope in the darkness of his own vain conceits.

Reader! is not this a pitiful case? But it is the delusion of many. "Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools." Self-will first makes a god—then a religion—and at last a pit of destruction for itself.

We next see pride in him. This must be, for it is the first-born of unenlightened reason. Creation leaves man dust. Sin makes him the vilest of dust. But still he walks vaingloriously, until grace opens his eyes, and lays him low in his proper humility. So it is with Cain. He feels neither sin, nor need of pardon. Therefore he proudly tramples on an offering, which tells him of nature's pollution. High-minded, he will not wash in the blood of the Redeemer, that he may be purified. Thus he is a model of that class, who, in every age, say, "We are rich and have need of nothing; and know not that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked."

There was unbelief, too. God had set before him the redemption of Jesus Christ. It was proclaimed in promise and in type. What more could have been done? But Cain believes not. Unbelief closes his eyes—he will not look to Jesus. It closes his hand—he will not lay hold on Him. It clogs his feet—he will not run to Him. It closes his ear—he will not hear of Him. It closes his mouth—he will not cry unto Him. It closes his heart—he will not receive Him. Do you marvel at his folly? Take heed! Take heed! Conscience may know, "You are the man."

The end is quickly told. Bad soon becomes worse. Unbelief swiftly goes down to its place, where the Gospel is never preached, and hope never comes. God expostulates. Cain yields not. He sees the righteousness of faith, only to hate it. He seeks, by the murder of his faithful brother, to extinguish the light which upbraids him. He falls into the recklessness of despair. And now, from his everlasting chains, he cries, "Beware of rejecting the more excellent sacrifice."

Reader! it may be, that, careful about many things, you have, until now, been careless concerning that which should be the main concern of man. Listen, then, for a moment, I beseech you. Do you not hear a startling question from this story? It is this. Are you a follower of Abel or of Cain? In simpler terms, are you receiving or neglecting the Lord Jesus? I say the Lord Jesus. For this is the real point. He was the end of the "more excellent sacrifice," which Abel brought, which Cain scorned. He is the Lamb appointed by God, accepted of God, and led to our very doors in our Bibles. Who can utter the mighty motives which urge the sinner to avail himself of this sacrifice? They are more than the moments of eternity. Each speaks as loud as the thunders of Sinai. Each has a thrilling clang, as the trumpet of God.

Only consider its real power. It is just this. It saves forever all the souls of all poor sinners, who present it to God in faith. Now, is not your soul precious? It is so beyond all thought. It needs redemption from wrath and ruin. Are you prepared to offer its equal price? Suppose the balances of heaven brought out. What can you place as a counterpoise in the counter-scale? You have nothing, but what is lighter than vanity. Produce now "the more excellent sacrifice." Its worth is beyond all weight. Offer this, and you are saved. Will you now be Cain-like, and reject "the more excellent sacrifice"? Your sins are many. The sands of the sea-shore are few in comparison. But each must be blotted out, or you die. A sin unpardoned cannot enter heaven. What, then, will you do? One thing is clear. You cannot undo the done. You cannot recall the past. But behold "the more excellent sacrifice." It cleanses from all sin. Through it all manner of sin is forgiven to the children of men. It makes the scarlet, white as now, and the crimson, like wool. It changes the vilest into perfect purity. Its merits can render you spotless.

Will you be Cain-like, and reject "the more excellent sacrifice"? You need peace. Satan threatens. The law condemns. Conscience accuses. Your wounds are deep. Your burdens heavy. Memory shows frightful specters. The heart bleeds. You go mourning and heavy laden. You look to self. It is despair. You look to the world. It mocks your woe. You look to reform. It is a broken cistern. You fly to outside performances of devotion. They are reeds, which break and pierce the hand.

How different is "the more excellent sacrifice!" It tells you that God is satisfied, guilt remitted, and all accusers silent. It thus brings peace—perfect peace, which passes all understanding. Will you now be Cain-like, and reject "the more excellent sacrifice"?

You desire sanctification. You pant to be conformed to the image of Christ. This is well; for it is an eternal law of God, that without holiness no man shall see His face. But holiness can be learned only at this altar. It is a sight of the dying Jesus, which kills lust. It is the shadow of the cross, which causes evil to wither. A lover of iniquity cannot dwell on this hallowed ground. But there never was a holy man, who did not live in glory in "the more excellent sacrifice." If ever you would walk with God in true righteousness, you must not be Cain-like, and reject it. But remember this sacrifice is only one. Jesus by the one offering of Himself, once made, "has perfected forever those who are sanctified." Pass by it, and you can find none else. Pass by it today, and you may seek it in vain tomorrow.

Hear, then, the voice of Abel, which calls you without delay to hasten to the one altar of salvation. Reader! turn not from these humble lines, until in truth you can say, I rejoice in the Lord Jesus Christ, I find Him to be "the more excellent sacrifice."

THE GOSPEL IN GENESIS: The Guilty Clothed

THE GUILTY CLOTHED

"The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them." Genesis 3:21


There is one God and one access to His smile. There is one heaven and one door to it. The Savior, who was to come, and the Savior, who is to come, is one Christ. The faith of Abel and of the Baptist looked to the same object. Noah did not preach one righteousness, Paul another. The Patriarchs did not rejoice in one hope, the Apostles in another. From first to last, all the pilgrims to the hill of Zion lean on one arm. All the voyagers, who cross the sea of life to the haven of eternal rest, are guided by one compass. How all-important, then, is the thought for you, for me—Have we escaped the many by-roads of destruction? Are we securely journeying along the one only track which leads to life?

The Lord Jesus Christ is this one way. The rays of His redeeming love burst forth, so soon as there was a sinner to be enlightened. The garden of Eden witnessed the dark sight of innocence destroyed; but it witnessed, too, an earnest of more than innocence restored. The parents of our race were not driven into the wide wilderness of the earth without a cheering prospect, and a strong comfort, and a precious promise, and a distinct hope of full recovery. The heavenward road was marked out before them in a clear map. Jesus was pictured to them in living colors.

Even the clothing made for them, and put upon them, preached the Gospel to them. Consider their case. They were conscious of shame, and blushed to meet the light of day. In their distress they sought concealment. They contrived—human invention could do no more—a shadow of a clothing. How flimsy, how tattered was it! But God in mercy came to their relief. He supplied all their need. He made "coats of skins and clothed them."

It may be that until now you have seen nothing in these garments but a warmth for the body and a screen from the wintry blast. But be assured, the meaning is far larger. It is spiritual. It tells us of the robe of Righteousness, which God has provided to adorn and beautify the naked soul. May the Lord, by His Spirit, show this wonder to us! We gain light on the subject by examining the substance of which the coats were made. It was not leaves joined together—nor twisted bark—nor plaited roots. It was the skin of lifeless animals. Death, then, must have commenced its desolating work within the garden. But how did it approach its earliest victims? Not in the slow step of gradual decay. This was the morning of existence. Time was in its infancy. The wastings of age were yet far off. These beasts of the field must have fallen by the hand of violence.

But why? Not to supply man with food. Before the flood, herbs alone sufficed for nourishment. Noah was the first who heard the enlarged grant, "Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." They were slain, then, for some other purpose. It could have been no unholy purpose, for God regarded their slaughter with no displeasure. This He testified by using their skins. If, then, they died according to the will of God, but not to feed man, there remains only the solid conclusion, that they were offered in sacrifice. Thus they foreshadowed the Lamb "foreordained before the foundation of the world." And hence we learn that in Eden victims bled. Yes! the first drop, which stained the earth, the first expiring groan, proclaimed in the most intelligible terms, "the wages of sin is death;" and "without shedding of blood is no remission." The doctrine of these rites is the doctrine of the Cross.

All doubt is thus removed as to the skins, which supplied man's first apparel. They were taken from the offerings for sin. Hence each sacrifice presents to the eye of faith the double sign of full salvation. Each altar casts a shadow, not only of the blood, which buys from hell; but also of the Righteousness, which buys all heaven. Such is the figure—It is indeed admirable for simplicity. But who can express the length and breadth of the truth which it unfolds?—a truth which is the very key of heaven, and the green pasture of the soul. Until we understand this, we are only at the threshold of the Gospel. Will you not, then, draw nearer with me to seek the full comfort of full knowledge?

I cannot doubt that your earnest desire is, when this short life is past, to enter into the joyous mansions of the blest. But have you robes of your own suitable for such abode? To be in heaven is to be with God. All there are beauteous in holiness. All shine in purity. All are white in spotless perfection. The eye of God rests on each with delight. He can find no blemish in them. He counts them all fit to sit on thrones of glory. But how have they obtained this unsullied clothing? It can be nothing framed by man. Defiled hands can only work defilement. "We are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags." It is plain, then, that if we could dwell where nothing but Righteousness reigns, we must bring Righteousness with us. It is equally plain, that we can as easily make ourselves gods, as array ourselves in unstained robes.

Who then will adorn us, that we may be found worthy? This reasoning leads us to the glad tidings of the glorious Gospel. All is provided for us in the Savior Jesus. The Righteousness needed by us, and presented to us, is His obedience. He does for us, what we could never have done. In Him we become what we never could have been without Him. He works out an infinite worthiness, that He may be to us all that His name imports, "The Lord our Righteousness." How precious is this well of truth!

Let us draw deeper refreshment from it in gratitude and faith. Behold again and again the glorious fact. One, made of a woman, has passed through human life without once straying from the path of God. The earth has seen a man pure as God is pure, holy as God is holy, perfect as God is perfect, sinless as God is sinless. He went round the circumference of the law without one deviating step. With strong wing He soared to its utmost height, and neither paused nor flagged. The searching eye of God always upon Him, could not once find the absence of heavenly love in any thought, or word, or deed. He had all trials, but no fault—all temptations, but no sin. The ground was ofttimes slippery, but He never slipped. He was assailed on all sides, but He never fell. Thus He stood before God, holding in His hands a full unbroken obedience—accomplished—completed to the minutest letter. But it was all for us! He wrought it, that He might give it; and He gives it to every naked sinner, who in faith flees to be thus sheltered by Him.

Reader! perhaps you eagerly exclaim, Are these tidings confirmed to me by the mouth of the Lord? They are! They are! Listen to His words: "The Righteousness of God, which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all, and upon all those who believe." Fully trust this saying, and all peace is yours. It is "unto all," as payment placed to their credit in the book of account. Thus when God reckons with the believer, and asks the fulfillment of the law, behold! there appears on his behalf, deposited by the hand of Christ, an obedience extensive with the very uttermost demand. God neither desires nor can receive more. So, too, it is "upon all." Hence, when the believer stands at heaven's gate, he appears in heavenly robes—the righteousness of Christ is upon him. What more can be required? It is as bright and glorious as God Himself.

I wish, indeed, that you should be satisfied on this point. In this affectionate desire, I beseech you to weigh well another Scripture: "He has made Him to be sin for us, who knew no sin, that we might be made the Righteousness of God in Him." Blessed is the man in whose heart these words take root! They are precious beyond ten thousand times ten thousand worlds. Do not they state that we—even we—who are all vileness by sin, if only we are one with Christ by faith, are made the Righteousness of God! To be reckoned righteous would be much. To be made Divine Righteousness is far more. O my soul! limit not this mercy. Rejoice in the full comfort. The humble believer re-echoes Scripture when he says, I am made in Christ the Righteousness of God.

It is manifestly the Lord's will that this provision for the soul should be always present to our adoring eye. Therefore it is, that the object most familiar to our senses—even the covering of the body—is planned to portray it. Study, then, this lesson. It is suited to every mind. The palace and the cottage alike teach it. It is as clear to the unlettered as to the learned. I would sincerely commend it to your faith and your affection; but I find that earthly shadows fall as far short of the heavenly reality, as the creature is nothing when compared with the Creator.

We admire Adam's robe of innocence. It was pure and lovely, but it was human. Not so this robe. It is Divine. The God-man, Jesus, is its Author. Adam's robe was soon soiled and lost. Satan touched it, and it crumbled into nothingness. This Divine robe is kept in the height of heaven; the destroyer cannot reach it. The skins brought to Adam would soon wax old, and perish. This is "everlasting Righteousness." Age rolling after age brings no decay; its newness is unfading. Earthly robes are sometimes of surpassing splendor. But what would be the brightness of Solomon's royal apparel beside this?—dim as the fairest star before the sun in mid-day strength.

Here I stop, feeling that eternity cannot exhaust the praises of this garment. But I have not written in vain, if these few words make its preciousness more precious to the souls of any. Reader! do you desire to possess it? Ask, and you have. Seek with earnest faith, and it is yours. The prodigal returns, and the father says, "Bring forth the best robe and put it on him." The weeping penitent comes, and heaven's best robe is cast around him. Be wise, then, and listen to the voice which cries from above, "I counsel you to buy from Me, white clothing, that you may be clothed." What can you desire more? Here is Christ's worthiness, for our unworthiness. His sinlessness, for our sinfulness. His purity, for our impurity. His beauty, for our deformity. His sincerity, for our deceit. His truth, for our falsehoods. His meekness, for our pride. His constancy, for our backsliding. His love, for our hate. In a word, His fullness, for our emptiness. His glory, for our shame. His one Righteousness, for our manifold unrighteousness.

Happy the man, who replies, I hide myself in You, O blessed Jesus! I receive You, as of God made unto me Righteousness. He sweetly sings, "I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God; for He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of Righteousness." He humbly adds the note of transport, "Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of Righteousness, which the Lord, the Righteous judge, shall give me at that day; and not to me only, but unto all those who love His appearing."

ask with a sigh, how did evil gain this rule? God's word only can give the answer. We there read, that one in the form of a serpent enticed our first parents, and, by prevailing, changed their nature. But who is this serpent? We further learn that it is the devil. He thus disguised himself, that he might deceive. The Bible does not close, until this truth is left beyond a doubt. It is twice written, "that old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan." The moving cause, then, of our being born in sin, and living in sin, stands confessed—it is the Devil.

He obtained his first power over our race by deceiving. He continues that power by deceiving still. His main art is to keep us blind concerning himself, and concerning the great Deliverer. I am sure of this, because I see many who pass all their days without one real thought, that they have a foe always near, plotting their misery. They hear and perhaps speak of him, as though he were an empty name, and not a mighty and most malignant power. Reader! this may be your case. If so, turn not, I humbly implore you, from a few words, which, by God's grace, may be light to your darkness, and life to your captive soul.

Consider the nature of Satan. His titles show it. He is the 'prince of this world'. Therefore his sway is world-wide. All the millions of our race, without one exception, were born his slaves. They entered life with his chains around their hands, and with his throne erected in their hearts. Can they gain freedom for themselves? No. His guards are too many and his fetters too strong. Do they desire it? No. The will, by nature, chooses his service. Jesus warns, "You are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father you will do." He is the god of this world. He sets up the idol of fame, or pleasure, or money; and men fall down and worship it. He opens his churches, and decks them with attractive show, and serves therein a pleasing cup of error, and multitudes go in to learn his creed. He is leader of countless troops.

There is not a spot, not a house, in all the world, which he leaves unoccupied. Do we go forth? we are surrounded. Do we seek solitude? we are followed. In the courts of God—in the place of gathering—his vassals swarm around us. We read of a legion in one person. How vast then must be the collected army! Hence there is a sense in which omnipresence is his; because there is no place, which some of his emissaries do not fill. So, too, omniscience may be claimed for him; because there is nothing, which some ear does not hear for him. Whatever be our acts, he beholds; whatever be our words, he hears. He is a spirit. Therefore he has access to the secret places of the heart. He can plant the seeds of all evil in the mind. If we close the outward gates of sense, he can still come in, and defile the thoughts, and make every imagination as wicked as himself. He entered into Judas Iscariot. He filled the heart of Ananias. Reader! has he not often made lodgment within you? Oh! think, then, why is not your lodgment among his slain ones!

He is as crafty as he is strong. His real design is seldom known, until his bait is taken. His web is not seen, until the victim is entangled. The hidden pit is only discovered by the fall. He has been employed in the same work for nearly six thousand years. Therefore he well understands his tools, and the materials on which he works. He is studying our tempers and characters all the day long. We know little of ourselves—he knows us perfectly. He sees the weak point—the fitting time—and accordingly he lays the snare.

Gehazi little thought that Naaman's visit would be the tempter's trap. Hezekiah as little thought that the embassy from Babylon would unmask his vain-glory. A question from a servant girl in a moment plunges Peter into cowardly guilt. Reader! ever watch, ever pray, if you would escape temptation. This is a dark picture. Who can view it, and not tremble? But, though fearful, it is only a faint outline of the mighty and cruel enemy of souls.

Give ear now to the tidings which I proceed to proclaim. Though he is strong, there is One far stronger. Though he is great, there is One gloriously greater. Though he is mighty, there is one Almighty. Though he is wily, there is One who is All-wisdom. Though he is many, there is one Infinite. Though he is a captivator, he has been taken captive. Though he is an enslaver, he has become a slave. Though he forges chains, he is enchained. Though he has brought low, he lies low. Though he is a conqueror, he has been conquered.

The blessed Jesus comes a Conqueror, a Deliverer, a Redeemer, a Savior. He treads down the devil, and gives deliverance, redemption, salvation to all the children of men, who stand under His banner of victory. Reader! perhaps you are one of anxious spirit, and are not ignorant of many tremblings, lest at last you should perish by the hands of this foe. If so, how eagerly you will say, Give me proof that Jesus crushes this tyrant's power. All praise be to the God of grace! proofs abound. Listen to the voice of the Lord God in Eden. "He," the Seed of the Woman, the Lord Jesus, "shall bruise your head." Did not God know what would happen? He did. Can God speak, and His word not come to pass? Impossible! Then this fact is true—the serpent's head must be bruised by Jesus. Take comfort, then; take courage. Man was scarcely ruined, when he who ruined him, was doomed to ruin. The savage joy of having marred creation's beauty was only felt, to be turned into the writhings of hopeless rage. Success was despair. He removed his foot from the neck of fallen man, and fled from the garden with the undying sound echoing in his ears, "He shall bruise your head." Such was the sure sentence of God.

Now take a case which shows that Satan's power has indeed a power above it. You know the story of Abel. He trod this earth a fallen being, as we are—hated by Satan, as we are—exposed to all his wiles, as we are. But he trusted in the promised seed for escape; Satan could not hold him. His early death, by a murderer's hand, landed him not in the kingdom of hell, but of God. Thus the first soul which left a human body, proved that Jesus could rescue the prey out of the destroyer's jaws.

You know, too, the story of Enoch. He was a man of like nature with us, born in corruption. You cannot doubt that Satan shot his every arrow at him. But his soul received no fatal wound. It was guarded by faith in the coming Savior. By faith in this promise he walked with God. By faith he mounted to heaven—another jewel in the Conqueror's crown. In the same way, all the holy men of the old world found that there was shelter and safety under the wing of the promised Conqueror. One promise convinced them, and gave them life. How many testimonies tell you of this rescue! Oh, let them not teach in vain!

But, in fullness of time, the Conqueror appears in human form. Satan knows Him well. He heard the voice from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." He makes one desperate effort to obtain the mastery. The blessed Jesus meets the conflict. Every advantage of outward circumstance is given to the adversary. He draws from his quiver his often-tried and most successful darts. He musters his strength and all his skill. His empire depends on the outcome. The most that hell can do, is done. But all in vain. Each blow falls harmless before the Word of the Lord. The devil quits the field, baffled and beaten. He finds himself held down by the chain, "He shall bruise your head."

He makes one effort more. He stirs up wicked men to seize and nail the blessed Jesus to the cross. When the Woman's Seed bows His head and dies; the enemy seems to triumph. But the end of the combat shows where the victory is. If Satan is the stronger, let him keep Jesus in the grave; let the prison detain the prisoner. But it does not—it cannot. Jesus bursts the doors—comes again from the dead—shows Himself alive—and ascends in triumph to the heavens. Thus the victory is forever won. The destroyer lies forever destroyed beneath His feet.

And when a few more years are past, the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with power and great glory, and the devil shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever! There is everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. "He shall bruise your head." The point, then, is clear. God is true. Jesus is Conqueror. The Goliath of hell is fallen!

Reader! this battle has been fought, this victory won, that poor sinners may be rescued. May the Holy Spirit help you to behold your high tower of safety, and to flee into it! Satan cannot but hate you—for his name is hatred, as surely as God is love; and he desires to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But if you are found in Jesus, you are high above his reach. He will attack. He will threaten. He will affright. But Jesus will be your shield; and that shield must be shattered before you can be harmed. Study the records of the Word. It is the history of the long war between the children of light and "the power of darkness." You will see that he has tried every weapon in the armory of hell. He has no other in reserve. But all have failed. They cannot rise higher than the heel. The head is safe with Christ in God.

Mark, too, how a mightier hand guides his blows to wound himself. Satan's kingdom is made to totter under Satan's assaults. He brought in sin—and so the door flew open for the Gospel. He persecutes the early converts—and the truth spreads rapidly abroad throughout the world. He casts Paul into the dungeon of Philippi—and the jailor believes with all his house. He sends him a prisoner to Rome—and epistles gain wings to teach and comfort all the ages of the Church.

Fear not, then, believer, the curse is on your foe. Dust is his food. He cannot swallow the jewels of Christ's crown. He may entice you with many things sweet to sense; but look to the Cross, and you see them no more. He may terrify you with roarings, as of a lion; show him the wounds of the Lamb, and he is gone. He may stand as your accuser at the judgment seat; but if you are washed in the blood of Jesus, he can find no mark in you, by which to claim you as his own. Be assured, if you are one with Jesus by faith, His full triumph is yours, "and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."

If such be your happy case, lift up your head with joy and sing the holy song, "Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O Lord, dashes the enemy to pieces. In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrew those who rose against you. Your anger flashed forth; it consumed them as fire burns straw." Exodus 15:6-7

THE GOSPEL IN GENESIS: The Serpent's Head Bruised

THE SERPENT'S HEAD BRUISED

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Genesis 3:15


We look around us, and we see the world full of sin. We look within us, and we find hearts full of the same sad plague. It is a terrible fact—and we ask with a sigh, how did evil gain this rule? God's word only can give the answer. We there read, that one in the form of a serpent enticed our first parents, and, by prevailing, changed their nature. But who is this serpent? We further learn that it is the devil. He thus disguised himself, that he might deceive. The Bible does not close, until this truth is left beyond a doubt. It is twice written, "that old serpent, who is the Devil and Satan." The moving cause, then, of our being born in sin, and living in sin, stands confessed—it is the Devil.

He obtained his first power over our race by deceiving. He continues that power by deceiving still. His main art is to keep us blind concerning himself, and concerning the great Deliverer. I am sure of this, because I see many who pass all their days without one real thought, that they have a foe always near, plotting their misery. They hear and perhaps speak of him, as though he were an empty name, and not a mighty and most malignant power. Reader! this may be your case. If so, turn not, I humbly implore you, from a few words, which, by God's grace, may be light to your darkness, and life to your captive soul.

Consider the nature of Satan. His titles show it. He is the 'prince of this world'. Therefore his sway is world-wide. All the millions of our race, without one exception, were born his slaves. They entered life with his chains around their hands, and with his throne erected in their hearts. Can they gain freedom for themselves? No. His guards are too many and his fetters too strong. Do they desire it? No. The will, by nature, chooses his service. Jesus warns, "You are of your father the Devil, and the lusts of your father you will do." He is the god of this world. He sets up the idol of fame, or pleasure, or money; and men fall down and worship it. He opens his churches, and decks them with attractive show, and serves therein a pleasing cup of error, and multitudes go in to learn his creed. He is leader of countless troops.

There is not a spot, not a house, in all the world, which he leaves unoccupied. Do we go forth? we are surrounded. Do we seek solitude? we are followed. In the courts of God—in the place of gathering—his vassals swarm around us. We read of a legion in one person. How vast then must be the collected army! Hence there is a sense in which omnipresence is his; because there is no place, which some of his emissaries do not fill. So, too, omniscience may be claimed for him; because there is nothing, which some ear does not hear for him. Whatever be our acts, he beholds; whatever be our words, he hears. He is a spirit. Therefore he has access to the secret places of the heart. He can plant the seeds of all evil in the mind. If we close the outward gates of sense, he can still come in, and defile the thoughts, and make every imagination as wicked as himself. He entered into Judas Iscariot. He filled the heart of Ananias. Reader! has he not often made lodgment within you? Oh! think, then, why is not your lodgment among his slain ones!

He is as crafty as he is strong. His real design is seldom known, until his bait is taken. His web is not seen, until the victim is entangled. The hidden pit is only discovered by the fall. He has been employed in the same work for nearly six thousand years. Therefore he well understands his tools, and the materials on which he works. He is studying our tempers and characters all the day long. We know little of ourselves—he knows us perfectly. He sees the weak point—the fitting time—and accordingly he lays the snare.

Gehazi little thought that Naaman's visit would be the tempter's trap. Hezekiah as little thought that the embassy from Babylon would unmask his vain-glory. A question from a servant girl in a moment plunges Peter into cowardly guilt. Reader! ever watch, ever pray, if you would escape temptation. This is a dark picture. Who can view it, and not tremble? But, though fearful, it is only a faint outline of the mighty and cruel enemy of souls.

Give ear now to the tidings which I proceed to proclaim. Though he is strong, there is One far stronger. Though he is great, there is One gloriously greater. Though he is mighty, there is one Almighty. Though he is wily, there is One who is All-wisdom. Though he is many, there is one Infinite. Though he is a captivator, he has been taken captive. Though he is an enslaver, he has become a slave. Though he forges chains, he is enchained. Though he has brought low, he lies low. Though he is a conqueror, he has been conquered.

The blessed Jesus comes a Conqueror, a Deliverer, a Redeemer, a Savior. He treads down the devil, and gives deliverance, redemption, salvation to all the children of men, who stand under His banner of victory. Reader! perhaps you are one of anxious spirit, and are not ignorant of many tremblings, lest at last you should perish by the hands of this foe. If so, how eagerly you will say, Give me proof that Jesus crushes this tyrant's power. All praise be to the God of grace! proofs abound. Listen to the voice of the Lord God in Eden. "He," the Seed of the Woman, the Lord Jesus, "shall bruise your head." Did not God know what would happen? He did. Can God speak, and His word not come to pass? Impossible! Then this fact is true—the serpent's head must be bruised by Jesus. Take comfort, then; take courage. Man was scarcely ruined, when he who ruined him, was doomed to ruin. The savage joy of having marred creation's beauty was only felt, to be turned into the writhings of hopeless rage. Success was despair. He removed his foot from the neck of fallen man, and fled from the garden with the undying sound echoing in his ears, "He shall bruise your head." Such was the sure sentence of God.

Now take a case which shows that Satan's power has indeed a power above it. You know the story of Abel. He trod this earth a fallen being, as we are—hated by Satan, as we are—exposed to all his wiles, as we are. But he trusted in the promised seed for escape; Satan could not hold him. His early death, by a murderer's hand, landed him not in the kingdom of hell, but of God. Thus the first soul which left a human body, proved that Jesus could rescue the prey out of the destroyer's jaws.

You know, too, the story of Enoch. He was a man of like nature with us, born in corruption. You cannot doubt that Satan shot his every arrow at him. But his soul received no fatal wound. It was guarded by faith in the coming Savior. By faith in this promise he walked with God. By faith he mounted to heaven—another jewel in the Conqueror's crown. In the same way, all the holy men of the old world found that there was shelter and safety under the wing of the promised Conqueror. One promise convinced them, and gave them life. How many testimonies tell you of this rescue! Oh, let them not teach in vain!

But, in fullness of time, the Conqueror appears in human form. Satan knows Him well. He heard the voice from heaven, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." He makes one desperate effort to obtain the mastery. The blessed Jesus meets the conflict. Every advantage of outward circumstance is given to the adversary. He draws from his quiver his often-tried and most successful darts. He musters his strength and all his skill. His empire depends on the outcome. The most that hell can do, is done. But all in vain. Each blow falls harmless before the Word of the Lord. The devil quits the field, baffled and beaten. He finds himself held down by the chain, "He shall bruise your head."

He makes one effort more. He stirs up wicked men to seize and nail the blessed Jesus to the cross. When the Woman's Seed bows His head and dies; the enemy seems to triumph. But the end of the combat shows where the victory is. If Satan is the stronger, let him keep Jesus in the grave; let the prison detain the prisoner. But it does not—it cannot. Jesus bursts the doors—comes again from the dead—shows Himself alive—and ascends in triumph to the heavens. Thus the victory is forever won. The destroyer lies forever destroyed beneath His feet.

And when a few more years are past, the Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with power and great glory, and the devil shall be cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, and shall be tormented day and night forever and ever! There is everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels. "He shall bruise your head." The point, then, is clear. God is true. Jesus is Conqueror. The Goliath of hell is fallen!

Reader! this battle has been fought, this victory won, that poor sinners may be rescued. May the Holy Spirit help you to behold your high tower of safety, and to flee into it! Satan cannot but hate you—for his name is hatred, as surely as God is love; and he desires to have you, that he may sift you as wheat. But if you are found in Jesus, you are high above his reach. He will attack. He will threaten. He will affright. But Jesus will be your shield; and that shield must be shattered before you can be harmed. Study the records of the Word. It is the history of the long war between the children of light and "the power of darkness." You will see that he has tried every weapon in the armory of hell. He has no other in reserve. But all have failed. They cannot rise higher than the heel. The head is safe with Christ in God.

Mark, too, how a mightier hand guides his blows to wound himself. Satan's kingdom is made to totter under Satan's assaults. He brought in sin—and so the door flew open for the Gospel. He persecutes the early converts—and the truth spreads rapidly abroad throughout the world. He casts Paul into the dungeon of Philippi—and the jailor believes with all his house. He sends him a prisoner to Rome—and epistles gain wings to teach and comfort all the ages of the Church.

Fear not, then, believer, the curse is on your foe. Dust is his food. He cannot swallow the jewels of Christ's crown. He may entice you with many things sweet to sense; but look to the Cross, and you see them no more. He may terrify you with roarings, as of a lion; show him the wounds of the Lamb, and he is gone. He may stand as your accuser at the judgment seat; but if you are washed in the blood of Jesus, he can find no mark in you, by which to claim you as his own. Be assured, if you are one with Jesus by faith, His full triumph is yours, "and the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly."

If such be your happy case, lift up your head with joy and sing the holy song, "Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in power. Your right hand, O Lord, dashes the enemy to pieces. In the greatness of your majesty, you overthrew those who rose against you. Your anger flashed forth; it consumed them as fire burns straw." Exodus 15:6-7

John 6:22-26

Wrong Motives

22 The day following, when the people which stood on the other side of the sea saw that there was none other boat there, save that one whereinto his disciples were entered, and that Jesus went not with his disciples into the boat, but that his disciples were gone away alone; 23 (Howbeit there came other boats from Tiberias nigh unto the place where they did eat bread, after that the Lord had given thanks:) 24 When the people therefore saw that Jesus was not there, neither his disciples, they also took shipping, and came to Capernaum, seeking for Jesus. 25 And when they had found him on the other side of the sea, they said unto him, Rabbi, when camest thou hither? 26 Jesus answered them and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Ye seek me, not because ye saw the miracles, but because ye did eat of the loaves, and were filled.


The morning after the feeding of the five thousand and the storm on Galilee, it would appear that there was a great passion among the people to get to know Jesus and to learn from Him. Although Jesus had sent the crowds away the evening before, there were still a great many people on the shore looking for Him.

These people had noticed three things, which indicated that another miracle had taken place. They had seen the disciples leaving in a boat without Jesus, and it had appeared to be the only boat that was available. Yet Jesus was gone.

As other boats arrived from Tiberias, the people began to cross the corner of the lake to Capernaum in search of Jesus. Many of them found Him and wanted to know when and how He had crossed over the sea.

It would truly be wonderful, if we could see that many people willing to make that kind of an effort to be with Jesus today. Here were people that had been with Him all day and had waited all night for Him. Now they were crossing the sea to find Him. Any modern pastor would give his right arm for a congregation like that!

But, Jesus knew their hearts. "There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God." (Rom 3:11) The people were following Him for the wrong reasons. They saw Him as a means to get free food, free medical treatment, etc.. The evening before, they were going to take Him by force and make Him their king, so that they could be a world power. Jesus was not fooled by their apparent enthusiasm and He told them so.

There are two important lessons that we need to learn from this passage. The first is that we need to examine our own motives for what we do. Ask yourself, "Why do I attend church? Why am I singing in the choir? Why do I like to teach Sunday school?" We can fool ourselves, but we cannot and will not fool Jesus. He knows our hearts better than we know them ourselves, and He will judge us accordingly.

Secondly, we need to see that we have a duty to minister to all kinds of people. I often hear Christians say that they are not going to help certain people who are in need, because those people are just taking advantage of the church. "All they want is a free handout."

That is exactly the same situation that Jesus points out in this passage, yet He loved them and ministered to them. He fed them, taught them, healed them, and died on the cross for them. If He loved them so much that He would die for them, shouldn't we at least be willing to provide for their most basic needs? Shouldn't we be looking for a way to share the gospel and bring them into His kingdom?

If our answer is, "No," perhaps we need to examine our own motives again. Why do we call ourselves Christians? Is it because we love Jesus or do we have another motive?

Before The Throne:

Ask the Holy Spirit to examine your heart and your motives for what you do? Why do you play worship music on Sunday morning? Why do you teach Sunday school? Why don't you care for those who are in need? Why don't you take the gospel to more people? Why do you call yourself a Christian? Pray that God will help you get your heart in the right place. Ask Him to turn you into the servant He wants you to be. Pray for the strength to lay aside the old man and to experience Jesus living and working through you.

For Further Study:

(v.22)
** but. Mt 14:22; Mr 6:45;

(v.24) ** seeking. Jn 7:11; 18:4,5; 20:15; Mr 1:37; Luk 8:40;

(v.25) ** Rabbi. Jn 1:38,39;

(v.26) ** Verily. Jn 3:3,5; ** Ye seek. Ps 78:37; 106:12-14; Eze 33:31; Act 8:18-21; Rom 16:18; Phil 2:21; 3:19; 1Tim 6:5; Jas 4:3,4;

John 6:30-33

Bread From Heaven

30 They said therefore unto him, What sign shewest thou then, that we may see, and believe thee? what dost thou work? 31 Our fathers did eat manna in the desert; as it is written, He gave them bread from heaven to eat. 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.


There is spiritual confusion in the world. Today, we have to deal with many false religions as well as many cults claiming to be "Christian" churches. Even among the mainstream evangelical churches, we are apt to find a crumbling away of the belief in the inerrancy of scriptures and of the gospel message. Without the regeneration of the Holy Spirit and His gift of understanding, man cannot come to an accurate understanding of the word of God. It was this same spiritual confusion that hindered the people who were confronting our Lord in the above passage.

Jesus had healed many of the people in the crowd. The day before, He had performed a miracle by feeding five thousand men plus their families with only five loaves of bread and two fish. At that time, they were convinced that He was the Messiah and they wanted to make Him their king. When Jesus sent them away and secretly crossed over Galilee to Capernaum, they followed Him.

However, when Jesus confronted them about their motives for following Him, they seem to have quickly turned against Him. They did not have any interest in learning about the power of faith. This crowd wanted results that they could see, a king who could feed them, a leader who could give them victory, and a hero whom they could admire.

If they were not to work for those worldly pleasures but were to rely on their faith in Jesus, they wanted some more proof. It was as though the miracle of the day before had never happened. Now, they wanted a sign to prove that He was truly the One sent from God, as He had claimed to be. And what kind of a sign did they want? They wanted something similar to the manna that God had given for food to their forefathers, as they crossed the desert wilderness towards the Promised Land... something that would fill their bellies. They wrongly attributed the gift of manna as being from Moses, and, although they did not say Moses' name, Jesus knew what they were thinking.

Jesus could have answered them with Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel." The sign had already been given, but Jesus did not offer them any signs. They had seen enough and were now guilty of unbelief.

The manna that fell from the skies during the time of the exodus from Egypt fed God's people as they wandered in the wilderness toward the land of promise. That whole process, however, was a mere shadow of things to come. Jesus would now release His people from the bondage of sin and lead them through the harsh wilderness of this sinful world toward an eternal life in the land of promise, which we call heaven. The only way for any of us to make it there is through faith in Christ. Therefore, He is our bread, which was sent from the Father.

Sometimes our journey through this life can be very difficult, but Jesus will sustain us according to the faith that we have in Him. We must learn to feed on Him by studying His word, through fervent prayer, and by absolute surrender to His will. The manna fell every day in the wilderness, but the Israelites were only allowed to collect as much as they needed for that day. Jesus, however, offers us an abundance of life. He is always with us and will never leave us. We can draw on His strength whenever we feel the need.

Before The Throne:

Do you find it difficult to live the Christian lifestyle in this wicked world? Feed on the bread that was sent by the Father, your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Take whatever obstacles are standing in the way of your ministry and turn them over to Jesus. Pray fervently about them and He will provide the way to overcome them. Be thankful that He has given you that spiritual food which brings eternal life. Praise God the Father for sending His Son.

For Further Study:

(v.30)
** What. Jn 2:18; 4:8; Ex 4:8; 1Kng 13:3,5; Isa 7:11-14; Mt 12:38,39; 16:1-4; Mr 8:11; Luk 11:29,30; Act 4:30; 1Cor 1:22; Heb 2:4; ** see. Jn 10:38; 12:37; 20:25-29; Isa 5:19; Mr 15:32;

(v.31) ** fathers. Ex 16:4-15,35; Num 11:6-9; Deut 8:3; Josh 5:12; Neh 9:20; Ps 105:40; ** He gave. Neh 9:15; Ps 78:24,25; 1Cor 10:3; Rev 2:17;

(v.32) ** Moses. Ex 16:4,8; Ps 78:23; ** the true. Jn 1:9; 15:1; Gal 4:4; 1Joh 5:20;

(v.33) ** cometh. Jn 3:13; 8:42; 13:3; 16:28; 17:8; 1Ti 1:15; 1Joh 1:1,2;

John 6:27-29

The Works of God

27 Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed. 28 Then said they unto him, What shall we do, that we might work the works of God? 29 Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.


People were coming to see Jesus for the wrong reasons. They wanted to be healed of a sickness or to be fed. I suppose some just wanted to be able to boast about having seen Him. Jesus criticized them for this and, in today's passage, gives them instructions for faithful living.

"Labor not for the meat which perisheth." The food that we eat has a very temporary effect on us. If we do not eat it soon after we get it, it will spoil and be of no use to us at all. After we eat it, it is quickly digested and gone from the body, leaving us hungry once again. Regardless of how much we eat, our body is also going to perish.

"Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun? One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever." (Ecclesiastes 1:2-4)

Understand that Jesus was not telling us to neglect our bodies or to fail to provide for our families. These things are necessary elements of life, but they should not be the most important things in life. Those of us, who labor in the service of the Lord, know from experience that He will provide our every need. No one should place their physical needs above their spiritual needs. The first is temporary while the second is eternal.

Jesus said that we must strive to fulfill our spiritual needs, so that we may have eternal life. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you." (Matthew 6:33)

There is an apparent contradiction in what Jesus says, because he also says that eternal life is a free gift from the Son of man. It is not something that we can earn by hard labor. What He means, however, is that we should desire eternal life above all things, and our attitudes and activities should reflect that desire.

God has sealed the Son. He has appointed Him and given Him the authority to act in the Father's name. Thus, Jesus gives eternal life to whomever He will. It is a free gift, the ultimate act of grace for a dying mankind.

The people, of course, interpreted this to mean that there was something that they had to do to earn eternal life. Perhaps there was an addition to the Law of Moses or something within the law that they had neglected. "Tell us what this work is, so that we can do God's work."

Jesus answered saying, "This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent." Faith is the key to God's work, or that you literally "keep on believing."

"But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6) The works of God begin with faith. Through faith, He takes control of our lives and of our works. All of our works that are pleasing to Him are the products of our faith.

"This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent."

Before The Throne:

We cannot work our way into God's favor, but our works can be a measure of our faith. Ask God to shore up the walls of your faith. Ask Him to take complete control of your life. Then, commit yourself to serving Him whenever and wherever He would send you. Perhaps there is something that you know He wants you to do, but, for some reason, you have neglected doing it. Pray about it and give God control. Please Him with your faithfulness.

For Further Study:

(v.27)
** Labour not. Gal 5:6; Phil 2:13; Col 1:29; 1Thess 1:3; ** the meat. Jn 4:13,14; Eccl 5:11-16; 6:7; Isa 55:2; Hab 2:13; Mt 6:19,31-33; Luk 10:40-42; 1Cor 6:13; 7:29-31; 9:24-27; 2Cor 4:18; Col 2:22; 3:2; Heb 4:11; 12:16; Jas 1:11; 1Pet 1:24; 2Pet 3:11-14; ** which endureth. Jn 4:14; Jer 15:16; ** which the. Jn 10:28; 11:25,26; 14:6; 17:2; Pr 2:2-6; Rom 6:23; ** for him. Jn 1:33,34; 5:36,37; 8:18; 10:37,38; 11:42; 15:24; Ps 2:7; 40:7; Isa 11:1-3; 42:1; 61:1-3; Mt 3:17; 17:5; Mr 1:11; 9:7; Luk 3:22; 4:18-21; 9:35; Act 2:22; 10:38; 2Pet 1:17;

(v.28) ** What. Deut 5:27; Jer 42:3-6,20; Mic 6:7,8; Mt 19:16; Luk 10:25; Act 2:37; 9:6; Act 16:30;

(v.29) ** This. Jn 3:16-18,36; 5:39; Deut 18:18,19; Ps 2:12; Mt 17:5; Mr 16:16; Act 16:31; Act 22:14-16; Rom 4:4,5; 9:30,31; 10:3,4; Heb 5:9; 1Joh 3:23; 5:1;

John 6:16-21

Alone At Sea

16 And when even was now come, his disciples went down unto the sea, 17 And entered into a ship, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was now dark, and Jesus was not come to them. 18 And the sea arose by reason of a great wind that blew. 19 So when they had rowed about five and twenty or thirty furlongs, they see Jesus walking on the sea, and drawing nigh unto the ship: and they were afraid. 20 But he saith unto them, It is I; be not afraid. 21 Then they willingly received him into the ship: and immediately the ship was at the land whither they went.


While Jesus remained on the mountain to pray, His disciples followed His instructions and departed by boat in the direction of Capernaum, which was on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee. It was evening, about six o'clock or later, and had already become dark.

It appears that they may have expected Jesus to join them before they left, but He did not. So they went alone in a small boat, and there was a great wind blowing and the sea was rising, making conditions very dangerous.

"Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! And let them sacrifice the sacrifices of thanksgiving, and declare his works with rejoicing. They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep. For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof. They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble. They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end. Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses. He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still. Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven." (Psalms 107:21-30)

Just as the best ships cannot keep us perfectly safe from the power of a raging sea, neither can the most precious possessions keep us safe from the trials of life. Life rages onward, lifting man to new heights and dropping him into the depths of despair. The rich are no more exempt from life's trials than are the poor. All of the money in the world could not keep a person from becoming sick during his lifetime, from growing old, or from facing the certainty of death.

Nor is there anything that can keep a man from facing his God at the judgment. The wages of sin is death, and all have sinned. Every man is being tossed by the storms of life toward certain destruction. He is already condemned by his unbelief, drowning in the sea of sin and rebellion. The darkness blinds him from seeing his way and fear overtakes him.

Yet, there is One who is above it all. While the disciples clung desperately to their little boat, frightened and in great danger, Jesus calmly walked across the raging sea. He was in no danger, because He controls the sea and is able to "bring them out of their distresses."

"It is I, be not afraid," He called out to them and is still calling to us. In His absence, there is constant danger. It does not matter where we are. On board the ship at sea or peacefully asleep at home, we are in grave danger when the Savior is not present in our lives. Yet, He is calling to us to assure us that, if we will receive Him into our boats or into our lives, there is no need to fear.

Jesus will provide us with the strength and courage to weather life's unexpected storms. Through His death, burial and resurrection He will provide us with the cleansing flood that wipes away all condemnation. When we receive Him into our lives as our Lord and Savior, we find ourselves immediately and safely on the shores of the kingdom of heaven.

"It is I, be not afraid."

Will you receive Him, today?

Before The Throne:

Praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men! Worship Him with the sacrifice of thanksgiving. Oh, how He loves you! Be still and hear His voice calling to assure you that He is there. Receive Him as the Lord and Savior of your life. Find the security of His love. Once you belong to Him, he promises that He will never leave you. Take the time to notice His presence and let your heart be calmed.

For Further Study:

(v.17)
** and went. Jn 2:12; 4:46; Mr 6:45;

(v.18) Ps 107:25; 135:7; Mt 14:24;

(v.19) ** had rowed. Eze 27:26; Jn 1:13; Mr 6:47,48; ** furlongs. Jn 11:18; Luk 24:13; Rev 14:20; 21:16; ** walking. Jn 14:18; Job 9:8; Ps 29:10; 93:4; Mt 14:25,26; Mr 6:49; Luk 24:36-39;

(v.20) ** It is. Ps 35:3; Isa 41:10,14; 43:1,2; 44:8; Mt 14:27-31; Mr 6:50; 16:6; Rev 1:17,18;

(v.21) ** they willingly. Ps 24:7-10; Song 3:4; Mt 14:32,33; Mr 6:51; Rev 3:20;

John 6:14-15

The Politics of Prayer

14 Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world. 15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone.


The miraculous feeding of the five thousand men and their families left its mark on those who witnessed it. Although Jesus had His disciples distribute the food, there was no mistake about who was responsible for the miracle. The people had heard about His miracles and had come to see them. Jesus was in control of the situation. He taught the people about the kingdom of heaven and He had compassion for their needs. He undoubtedly had done other miracles that day, healing sicknesses and casting out demons.

When the men in the crowd began to understand that Jesus was the prophet (Deut 18:15), the expected Messiah, the crowd began to get out of control. These were men who looked for the coming of the Christ for the wrong reasons. They neither expected nor desired a spiritual revival. The Messiah was expected to lead a political and military revolution that would make Israel the dominant world power.

It is very important for every one of us to examine our motives whenever we are planning to do anything in the name of Christ. "Why do I want to do this? Is it what God wants me to do or is it what I want to do?" Many churches have been severely damaged by people who have not bothered to ask that question before they took action.

The church must also be careful about being involved in politics. Jesus never asked us to change the world's governments and He himself never criticized the Roman government, although it was often extremely cruel to His people. Jesus called people to come to Him and be spiritually changed. If we come to Him for any other reason, we are like the crowd by the sea of Galilee.

The only other work that Jesus has given us is the ministry of reconciliation, leading others to be saved. Whatever we do must have that as its ultimate goal. Engaging in political lobbying or power struggles is not the best way to lead someone to Christ. Politicking always results in bitter fighting and closes our opponents' ears to the important message that we should have for them.

Our omniscient Lord knew that the men would try to make Him their king, and that the frenzy of the crowd might overpower their senses and cause them to take Him by force. So that they would not be any more tempted to sin, he removed Himself and the disciples from their presence.

Instructing His disciples to go across the lake (Mat 14:22), Jesus retreated back to the mountain to spend time in prayer with His Father. His immediate need for prayer should be an example to those of us who are too busy with everyday business. Jesus felt that there was a potentially dangerous situation developing. Instead of stepping in and handling it, He retreated to find the comfort, wisdom and strength of His Father in heaven.

By attacking a problem through prayer, we are taking the most aggressive approach to a situation. All power and authority is from our sovereign God who has promised to meet our every need. Jesus never told us to become politicians, but we are frequently told to pray for those men who hold the reins of power. We should also pray for people whose political ideals oppose everything that is Godly. Our God is an all-powerful sovereign Lord. It is His right to raise up kings and presidents in accordance with His plan for His creation.

Jesus' prayer worked! The crowd was dispersed, perhaps by the storm, and He was able to come down from the mountain and rejoin His disciples. No one tried to take Him by force. He was free to preach again some other day, and the people would continue to come to hear Him. God was in control.

Before The Throne:

Learn to pray before you act. Whatever important decisions you have to make today, stop and take time to pray about them. Ask yourself, "How will dealing with this affect my testimony for Jesus?" There are some things that should only be solved by prayer. Pray fervently about them and believe that God will answer. Pray for the political situation in your country and the world. Pray for the world's leaders. Commit yourself to spreading the gospel. There is not enough time for other things.

For Further Study:

(v.14)
** This. Jn 1:21; 4:19,25,42; 7:40; Gen 49:10; Deut 18:15-18; Mt 11:3; 21:11; Luk 7:16; 24:19; Act 3:22-24; 7:37;

(v.15) ** perceived. Jn 2:24,25; Heb 4:13; ** take. Jn 7:3,4; 12:12,13; Mr 11:9; Luk 19:38; ** he departed. Jn 5:41; 18:36; Mt 14:22; Mr 6:46-52;

THE GOSPEL IN GENESIS: The Seed of the Woman

THE SEED OF THE WOMAN

"I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed. He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel." Genesis 3:15


These are the first words of grace to a lost world. When were they spoken? By whom? To whom?

When were these words spoken? Just after sin had come in, and innocence was gone, and man had become a guilty creature before God. One command had been given, for the purpose of seeing whether he would love, and fear, and serve his Maker. That one command had just been trodden under foot. Pause here for one moment and think. Some people dream of earning eternal life by doing God's will. This way has been tried. It failed. The end of it was ruin. Our first parents were innocent, and had no inward tendency towards evil, but they rushed into it. But we are born with corrupt hearts, and fully bent on sin, and can we keep ourselves holy and spotless? It is a vain thought. Let us cast it away. We cannot continue blameless. Our wicked nature is always drawing us out of the straight path of godliness. We have not stood blameless during one hour of one day of our lives. The charge is true, and every honest conscience will confess it.

By whom were these words spoken? We read, "The Lord God said." What proof is here, that our God is merciful and gracious! Think how He had been offended! Think, with what base ingratitude—with what contempt He had been treated! Satan's lie had been trusted rather than His truth. His easy yoke had been broken, as if it had been some hard restraint. The language of the proud heart had been—We will not have God to reign over us!

God, even He, descends. No thunder-bolt is in His hands. No avenging angels follow to sweep the rebels into perdition. The voice which speaks is the voice of mercy. The tidings which are brought, are the tidings of deliverance. O my soul, can you consider the Speaker, and not exclaim—Truly, God is good—He wills not the death of a sinner! Reason as the wife of Manoah did, "If the Lord were pleased to kill us, He would not, as at this time, have told us such things as these."

To whom were these words spoken? Three only were present. First the guilty pair. Mark their state, and learn from it that the first step in the way of salvation is taken by God. We have sure evidence before us. He wills to save, when man wills to die. He moves to save, when man moves to perish. Our first parents are before Him, a picture of all fallen sinners who would be born of them. As they were, so are we by nature. They were sinners, blind and hardened. So are we. Blind, I say; for their eyes were not opened to the dreadful condition into which they had passed, or the dreadful misery, which was now their lot. Hardened, I say—for they did not confess their sin, or humble themselves, or weep tears of sorrow, or utter prayers for mercy. Just such is man's natural blindness and hardness from that day to this. And still to such God comes in love—to such God speaks of recovery to His favor and His kingdom.

Reader! calmly meditate on this. You will see, that when man is all careless, God is all care; when man can do nothing, God does all; when man deserves nothing, God gives all. Salvation is from first to last of grace! Man rushes to hell. Grace calls to heaven.

Next, another being was present. But there was no hope for him. He was only told that destruction was his doom. We have here a proof that God makes a difference between offenders. Let us not vainly ask, why mercy yearns over man, and turns from the angels which fell? There can be but one reply, "Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight." And can we so reply, and not sing praise, that we, who have so sinned, should be so pitied, and have such rich provision of pardon? O my soul, think on these things.

But what is this rich provision? We read the answer in the word, "her seed." Here is a promise, that a deliverer would come into this world, who would be born of a woman. If the question be put, "Who is this seed of the woman?" We readily reply—The Lord Jesus Christ. The blessed Savior. The only Redeemer. The only begotten Son of God Most High. True, the voice of God here promises that Jesus, appointed to save—should be made man—should be one of our family by birth—should be bone of our bones, flesh of our flesh. The fact is easily stated. But, Reader! is it your habit to ponder over the great and precious truths belonging to it? Mark! The mighty God, without ceasing to be God, becomes man to redeem us! Wonder of wonders! The like to this never has been—never could be.

Let the greatest king become the lowest beggar—let the richest prince leave his palace for the vilest cell of a loathsome prison—it is as nothing compared to the act of Jesus, when He left heaven to put on the rags of our mortality! The Creator of all things appears a creature! The Almighty is a weak babe!—The Eternal is a child of time!—The Infinite is contracted into the limits of this poor flesh! Is not this the wonder of wonders? Is not this grace which has no bounds?

Reader! do you seriously believe that Jesus thus humbled Himself even for you? If you do, you cannot but feel that no debt can be like your debt; and that, as heaven is high above the earth, so great is what you owe, beyond what you can ever pay. In the poor matters of this earth, a prince's or a noble's birth awakens signs of far-extending joy. The banners wave. The steeples sound. The festive table is spread.

Shall we then call upon the realm of nature to celebrate with worthy praise this praise-surpassing fact? What if the sun could hang forth millions of lamps, each brighter in brilliance than itself; what if each drop of ocean's water could raise a chorus of ecstatic hallelujahs; what if each leaf of every forest could cast back the pealing shout; it would be shame to offer a tribute so unfit! But there is a testimony of delight which Jesus seeks. He is repaid, when grateful hearts throw wide their portals to receive Him, and when welcoming praise extols His saving name. O my soul, will you not then bid all that is within you, to clasp the hands of loving worship around the manger at Bethlehem?

When Abraham saw the day of Christ afar off, he rejoiced and was glad. The unborn Baptist could not restrain emotion, when the unborn Jesus was brought near. The beacon-star filled the journeying sages with exceeding great joy. The multitude of the heavenly host, who shared not in redemption's mercies, made heaven's vault to echo with their praises. O my soul, can you be silent? Hear you not the angel's cry? "I bring you good tidings of great joy." Will you not with great joy drink in these tidings? "Unto you is born a Savior, which is Christ the Lord." Will you not, in aged Simeon's spirit, clasp Him to the heart of faith, and lift up the hymn of praise?

Next, have you, too, seriously pondered, for what exact purpose did Jesus become the Woman's Seed?—Our peace and happiness depend on the right knowledge of this. It was just for this purpose, that He might be qualified to stand in the poor sinner's stead; and might be in a condition to represent him. You know that the Word of God has spoken, and cannot be called back, "The soul that sins, it shall die." You know, too, that to die, in this sentence, means to suffer forever the torments of the lost. Under this condemnation you and I are brought by sin. You and I, then, must thus endure, unless God be pleased to take the death of a sinless one in the place of our death. Jesus is willing to bear all for us; how could He do so, without being man? He could not. Therefore, He is made man. So when God's Truth and Justice say—I must have that man's life; Jesus is ready to reply—I am of his nature, here is my life for his. Mark, then, He is the Woman's Seed, that He may have a life to lay down, and have blood to shed, for the ransom of such as we are. See clearly, that Jesus takes man's flesh, that He may redeem from death all of man's family who trust in Him.

Thus, also, in man's nature, He obeys all the commandments of God. But the righteousness thus worked out is not for Himself. It is wrought, that He may impute it to all who come to Him. This He never fails to do. So when the poorest believer presents himself for admission into heaven, he can show, for his passport, a perfect righteousness placed over him by Jesus. It is so all-sufficient, that, when weighed in the balances of God, it lacks nothing. I repeat these truths, because they are the groundwork of true faith. Jesus was the Woman's Seed, that, being exactly as we are, yet without sin, His death might be a substitute for our death—His righteousness might be a substitute for our righteousness.

Reader! are you a poor sinner, feeling your misery and dreading eternal wrath? Flee to the Woman's Seed! There is pardon in Him to wash away all iniquities. The faithful of the old world knew Him by no other name, but they believed God, that, in due time, He would come, and thus satisfy God's justice for them. They looked to Him who would be born. They looked, and none can look in vain. Do you seek after a righteousness to make you fit to appear in heaven? It is all ready in the Woman's Seed. Stretch out the hand of faith, take it, and it is yours forever. Whatever you need dwells richly in Jesus, the Woman's Seed. Cast on Him your vileness, and take His purity; cast on Him your poverty, and take His riches; cast on Him your nothingness, and take His fullness; cast on Him your curse, and receive His blessing.

Do you hesitate—do you stagger—fearful to approach one so excellent in holiness? Well might you tremble, if bade to draw near to God in His glory. But He who calls you, is your Kinsman—the Woman's Seed. You may fly up to Him on the wings of faith, and embrace Him with the arms of faith, and cling to Him with the hands of faith, and lay your weary head upon His breast, and tell Him all your sorrows; and you will find that His heart is a brother's heart, as tender to sympathize, as His power is all-sufficient to save.

Do you still stand doubting? What, when Jesus has come so far for you, will you not stir one step towards Him? When He has stooped so low, will you not ascend to Him? When He brings Himself, in man's form, to your very door, will you not open and welcome Him? Surely there is enough in the Woman's Seed to slay all unbelief; enough to win and conquer every heart.

Here we see heaven coming down to earth, that earth may be raised to heaven. Here we see the Son of God becoming man, that men may become the children of God. Will not this satisfy—persuade—allure? Surely God could do no more! Man, then, can say no more.

I close with this earnest entreaty; read these few words again and again, until you find the flame of faith and love kindling in your soul; and then, on the bended knees of gratitude, exclaim—I bless You, Heavenly Father, for the promise in Eden of the Woman's Seed. I bless You, for sending, in the fullness of time, the Woman's Seed. I bless You, O Lord Jesus Christ, for coming to save me, as the Woman's Seed. I bless You, Holy Spirit, for revealing to my soul the Woman's Seed.

The Gospel in Genesis: The Heavenly Bridegroom

THE HEAVENLY BRIDEGROOM

"This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh." Genesis 2:23


Our Bible is a very Paradise of each sweet flower and each regaling fruit. But the believer sits down most gladly in those choice spots, which are thickly set with tokens of the Savior's tenderness. Surely happiness mounts up to heaven, when on Scripture's ground, and under the Spirit's light, the soul discerns that Jesus loves with an everlasting love. Reader! this humble tract will visit you in a favored hour, if it should lead you to drink deeply of such joy.

We cannot move far amid the pages of the Word, without hearing the silver voice—Give ear unto Me, that I may tell you of My love. For this purpose each tender image speaks by turn. Does a father love with strength of manly love? Jesus is the Everlasting Father. Is a mother gentle in her soft caressings? Jesus is more constant—"they may forget, yet will I not forget you." Is a brother generous in his affections? Jesus is the firstborn among many brethren. Is the sisterly union as the intertwining of hearts' fibers? The Church is "His sister, His spouse." Is a friend noble in his sympathies? We read, "Henceforth I call you not servants, but I have called you friends."

Will not these parallels suffice? No! not if another can be added. As all colors combine to form pure light—so all tints must join to form the full portrait of a loving Savior. There remains the full-blown endearment, when heart flows into heart in bridal-union—and will Jesus claim His people as His bride? It is so! This is the emblem, which is the Spirit's choice delight. It meets us in the garden of Eden. It walks by our side throughout the green pastures of the word. It only leaves us, when Revelation writes no more. "The Spirit and the Bride say Come." Echo replies to echo, "As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you." "I will betroth you unto Me forever; yes, I will betroth you unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in loving-kindness, and in mercies."

Following such holy guidance, let us now seek Jesus in that pure feeling, which innocently played in Adam's heart, before sin entered with unhallowing touch. The narrative is simple. "So the Lord God caused Adam to fall into a deep sleep. He took one of Adam's ribs and closed up the place from which He had taken it. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib and brought her to Adam." But the mystery is deep. A greater than Adam and the first spouse are in this history of sinless union. Faith has been taught, and quickly learns, that the spiritual Bridegroom and the mystic bride are here! Earth's first espousals are but the shadow of heaven's far earlier love.

The second Adam sleeps a sleep—even the sleep of death; but not in Eden's innocent delights, but on the hard altar of His ignominious cross. His side is pierced. There flow thence the means to constitute the Church. There is blood to expiate every sin—and water to wash from every stain. The Father presents the bride to Adam. The same Father gives the favored bride to Christ. Adam receives her as portion of himself. Christ's word takes up the same welcome. They "are members of His body, of His flesh, and of His bones."

We are thus emboldened to draw with reverential pen some lines of likeness. Marriage can only be in kindred race. Here the bride is low in lowly origin. Her coarse material is clay. But Jesus dwells in heaven's bright palace, bright in all the brightness, glorious in all the glories of His own Deity. How can union be? He leaves His home. He veils His Almighty might. He seeks our cell. He scorns not our loathsome rags. He is born a child of man in Bethlehem. He lives the Son of Man in human nature.

O my soul! did your Lord thus stoop to make you His forever? He did. Infinite was the distance—but He came with lightning-speed on wings of love—and rested not, until He rested in your far-off abode. The bridegroom counts all efforts light to win the bride's regard. Can it be, that Jesus strives to gain unlovely souls? It is so! He lives, when we love. He scarcely seems to reign, until the heart presents her throne. Hence in the Scriptures He sends letter upon letter, each burning with the pure flame of tenderness. Hence He follows with the fond call—Turn! turn! Look unto me. Come unto Me. Return unto Me. Follow Me. Abide in Me. Hence He sends His faithful ministers—the friends of the Bridegroom—to plead His cause—to appeal in His behalf—to beseech in His name—to set forth His matchless charms—to show that His love is strong as death, and pure as the light, and boundless as eternity. That ministry is most true to Christ—most rich in everlasting fruits, which paints most vividly the mind of Christ.

But more than this. The Holy Spirit comes commissioned by the Father and the Son. He reveals the Lord in all the beauties of His person—all the wonders of His grace—all the glories of His work. He subdues all prejudice—turns the stream of opposing will—and kindles a blazing torch in the dark corners of the soul. Thus union is achieved. The faithful soul forgets her own people and her father's house. She casts out the former rivals, which bewitched her thoughts. She comes out and is separate from a once-fondled world. She leaves all, and cleaves to Christ.

In nuptial bonds the bride rejects the distinction of her former name. A new address attests that she is no more her own. It is just so in spiritual union. What! though the nature of Jesus proclaims essential Deity—that very nature is the Church's diadem. We are first told, that "The Lord our Righteousness" is His name. The same is her portion, for it is added, "The Lord our Righteousness" is her name too.

The bridegroom courts the closest communion. It is even so with Jesus. By His Word, and through His messengers, He allures His people to His side. He opens to them the purposes of His grace—the secrets of His kingdom. He encourages them to tell out their every need, and fear, and desire, and hope. He tenderly invites, "Let me see your countenance, let me hear your voice, for sweet is your voice, and your countenance is lovely."

Who can portray a bridegroom's sympathy? It is, however, but a drop compared to the full ocean of a Savior's care. "We have not a High Priest, who cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities." "He who touches you, touches the very apple of His eye." "In all our affliction He is afflicted." No suffering member can be pained on earth, but the participating Head cries out in heaven, "Why are you persecuting Me?" Reader! you have often heard these truths. Do they touch a responsive chord within? If not, yours is not the bride-like spirit.

The bridegroom brings his dowry. And does not Christ enrich with gifts? Angels may marvel, dazzled by the Church's wealth. He holds back nothing from her. All His attributes are her grand inheritance. His wisdom is hers to guide. His power is hers to uphold. His love is as the sun to cheer. His faithfulness and truth are her shield and support. His Spirit is poured down in unfailing measure to teach, to solace, and to bless her. His righteousness is hers, to be her spotless robe. His heavens are hers, to be her home. His throne is hers, to be her seat. His glory is hers, to be her crown. His eternity is hers, that she may joy forever. Happy the soul, which responds—All this I steadfastly believe!

The bridegroom shrinks from no labors, which bring support and plenty to his beloved. Thus Jesus lives a life of watchful work. He rests not night and day. His outstretched hands are ever pleading, and ever pouring down supplies of grace. He purchased all Heaven's blessing, that His people may never lack. And as each need arises, He is all vigilance to see—all bounty to bestow. Earthly union often knows the pang of separation. Duty's stern voice may say—Depart. Necessity may force to lonely distance. But nothing in heaven, or earth, or hell, unlocks the arms which cling around a divine Bridegroom! At each moment He is nearer than the shadow to the side. Life is but leaning on His arm. Death is but sleeping on His breast. There is a never-failing bond in the sure world, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

In this cold world, affections cool. The day, which dawns in love, may close in hate. Tastes vary and cause variance. Discordant tempers make discordance. Far otherwise is the heavenly wedlock. It is ever true, "He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit."

When Jesus calls in love, He changes by His spirit. He imparts a new nature, whose every pulse is unison with Himself. It is heaven's own harmony, when Christ is all. Here a house is often tears, because of godless offspring. Many a one has sighed, "O Absalom, my son, my son!" But from heavenly union nothing springs but heavenly seed. Believers are married to Christ, that they should bring forth fruit unto God. Apart from Him, the heart is the hotbed of evil. United to Him, it is the holy parent of each holy grace.

But at present the Church sees her Bridegroom only by the eye of faith. The veil of flesh impedes the meridian gaze. But yet a little while and the day of visible espousals will arrive. A startled universe will hear the shout, "Behold the Bridegroom comes." There will resound, "as it were the voice of a great multitude, and as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Hallelujah, for the Lord God omnipotent reigns. Let us be glad, and rejoice, and give honor to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready." Then shall He shine forth, "to be admired in His saints, and to be glorified in all those who believe." The bride "shall be brought unto the king in clothing of needlework; with gladness and rejoicing shall they be brought, they shall enter into the king's palace." The nuptial song shall be one ceaseless Hallelujah. Happy soul, which responds—All this I confidently expect!

Reader! is it your happy privilege to know that a union, which thus lives forever, cements your heart to Christ, and Christ to you? Remember, then, that this blessed relationship demands your faithfulness. The Lord is jealous of His people's love. You must not stray from Him for one single moment, or in one single thought. The caution is needful; for days are come, in which strangers are gone forth, professing to be the Bridegroom's friends. They even stand in pulpits, and give instruction in His name. By this sign you may know them. They exalt the bride rather than her Lord. They magnify His ordinances rather than Himself. They beguile her to admire herself, to lean on herself, to trust in herself, and to decorate herself in the mock robes of false humility and superstition. Take heed; the ground is slippery. It may seem pleasant to self-loving nature; but it slopes towards Antichrist!

It may be that some worldling reads this whose life is wedded to another lord. Would that such may turn and burst their fearful bonds! There is indeed the prince of this world. His promises are lies. His dowry is anguish. His embrace is death. His chamber is darkness. His bed is flames of fire. His marriage-wail is agony's wild shriek. Worldling, can you love this spouse?

John 6:5-13

Loaves and Fishes

5 When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? 6 And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. 7 Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. 8 One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, 9 There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many? 10 And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. 11 And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. 12 When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. 13 Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.


Jesus had gone to the mountain to be alone with His disciples, but the crowds of people followed Him. While many people would have been upset by this total lack of privacy, Jesus saw it as an opportunity to serve the people. He saw the needs of the people and had compassion for them.

"Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat?" The question had a twofold purpose. Jesus wanted the needs of the crowd to be met in a miraculous way and He also wanted His disciples to learn how to live by faith. The question was a way of testing them and making them think about the situation. Jesus already knew that He was going to feed the crowds with the loaves and fishes.

(In the other gospels, the disciples begin this conversation and Jesus speaks to all of them, rather than just Phillip and Andrew. However, the four accounts can be perfectly harmonized without any change in meaning.)

As he looked out over the approaching throng of people, Phillip answered that two hundred pennyworth would not be sufficient to feed each person a small portion of bread. Two hundred pennyworth was probably a lot more money than they had in their kitty, and this was Phillip's way of expressing the impossibility of the situation. In the other accounts of this story, the disciples urged Jesus to send the people away to get their own food.

God had, however, provided for these people. There was a small boy with five barley loaves and three fishes, who was willing to give them all for the feeding of the crowd. "But what are they among so many?" Andrew asked.

Andrew's question highlights the focus of this story. God always gives us sufficient means to accomplish His work. There were five thousand men plus their women and children present at this meeting... perhaps a total of fifteen thousand or more people. Those five loaves and two fishes looked very insufficient. The disciples were discouraged, but Jesus never doubted.

Think about the many times that God has given you an opportunity to serve Him, but you declined because you thought that you had insufficient means. Perhaps it was a lack of talent, a lack of knowledge, a lack of money, a lack of help or a lack of some other resources that made you feel like the task was impossible. So, you quit.

Remember this story the next time God asks for the impossible from you. We always think that Jesus fed the five thousand, but He didn't. He prayed, blessed the food, and gave it back to the disciples for the feeding of the crowd. The scripture does not tell us that He gave them more than the five loaves and two fishes. Instead, He gave them an order to feed the people.

Jesus required the disciples to act in faith with the supplies that God had given them. When they did this, they found that there was more than enough... a surplus of food. We can see the innocent faith of a small child, who never doubted that his loaves and fishes were enough. He did not mind giving all that he had in order to help out. Only the adult minds of the disciples were hindered by disbelief, but they learned from this experience. Have you?

Before The Throne:

What impossible task is waiting for you? Pray about it. If God is telling you to do it, trust in His provision. Be like Jesus. Give thanks for what you have and ask God's blessing upon it. Pray that he will give you the faith to do what He asks without wavering. If you still doubt, ask for His assurance. He will guide you.

For Further Study:

(v.5)
** saw. Jn 4:35; Mt 14:14,15; Mr 6:34,35; Luk 9:12; ** Whence. Mt 15:33; Mr 8:2-4; Luk 9:13;

(v.6) ** prove. Gen 22:1; Deut 8:2,16; 13:3; 33:8; 2Chr 32:31;

(v.7) Num 11:21,22; 2Kgs 4:43; Mr 6:37; ** pennyworth. Jn 12:5; Mt 18:28;

(v.8 ) ** Andrew. Jn 1:40-44; Mt 4:18;

(v.9) ** which. Mt 14:17; 16:9; Mr 6:38; 8:19; Luk 9:13; ** barley. Deut 8:8; 32:14; 1Kgs 4:28; 2Kgs 7:1; Ps 81:16; 147:14; Eze 27:17; 2Cor 8:9; Re 6:6; ** but. Jn 11:21,32; 2Kgs 4:42-44; Ps 78:19,41;

(v.10) ** Make. Mt 14:18,19; 15:35,36; Mr 6:39-41; 8:6,7; Luk 9:14-16;

(v.11) ** when. 1Sam 9:13; Luk 24:30; Act 27:35; Rom 14:6; 1Cor 10:31; 1Thes 5:18; 1Tim 4:4,5;

(v.12) ** they. Ne 9:25; Mt 14:20,21; 15:37,38; Mr 6:42-44; 8:8,9; Luk 1:53; 9:17; ** that nothing. Neh 8:10; Pr 18:9; Luk 15:13; 16:1;

(v.13) ** and filled. 1Kgs 7:15,16; 2Kgs 4:2-7; 2Chr 25:9; Pr 11:24,25; 2Cor 9:8,9; Phil 4:19;

Christ Is All: The Gospel in Genesis

ADAM

"The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground." Genesis 2:7


The life of Adam is but a brief page. But each line supplies a volume larger than the books of human mind. We find in it the key of all, which amazes us in that marvel—Man. The countless now on earth—the countless in unutterable bliss—the countless in eternal woe—all hang on him as the parent-tree of being. All, who shall yet be born to shine in heaven or to burn in hell, must flow as streams from this fountainhead.

When we go back to the birth of him, we naturally ask, of what material is the work? Pride would conclude that no lowly quarry could produce such a frame. But pride must lie low before the unerring word, "Dust you are." Ponder this first truth. The mightiest monarch—and the Lazarus at his gate—are one in base original. The common parentage is that of worms. The flesh of each is but the filth, which our feet scorn. Who, then, will boast of beauty or of strength? There is a voice in dust, which mocks such pitiable folly.

But man is more than a shell of clay. The lowly case holds a matchless jewel. God "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and he became a living soul." The flesh is of the earth and earthy. The spirit is from on high and heavenly. One is the clog of matter. The other is a ray from God. One soon crumbles back to vileness. The other is a deathless principle. One sinks as to the level of the beasts. The other gives the wings of immortality. Reader! you cannot think too highly of the soul. It cannot cease to be. Age after age imprints no wrinkle on it. It neither withers nor decays. Its time is timeless. Its death is never.

Thus man was formed. A lovely garden was the palace of creation's lord. Fragrance and fruit charmed and refreshed each sense. Converse with God was the soul's easy flow. To live was unalloyed delight. The smile of innocence met the smile of heaven. The heart was only love—the worship only praise. But man was a creature, and a creature must obey. In heaven the angels do their Maker's bidding. God cannot be, except on a throne of rule. But obedience shall be no heavy yoke. Only one command is issued—only one tree forbidden. To transgress is death. "In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die." Who can hear this penalty, and think that sin is a trivial fault—easily to be pardoned—soon to be effaced? No! the slightest sin is the soul in open rebellion. It casts God from the heart. It strives to tread Him in the dust. It avows the godless principle of independence. It proves that self has erected the idol of self-love.

Can God then merely ignore evil? Ah, no! The whole of Deity abhors it! Therefore, to transgress is death. Such is the penalty. But who can fathom the depths of misery in this curse? It involves the instant withdrawal of heavenly presence. It denounces withering to the core of every spiritual faculty and perception. It warns, that to rebel is to become death-stricken in body, and dead in soul. It shows that sin's proper home is the eternal gnawings of accusing conscience, and eternal tossings on the bed of wrath.

We now approach earth's darkest day. The tempter comes. We reason not with those who ask if this might not have been averted. We see that piety untried is piety uncertain. With subtlety the snare is laid. Evil suggestion is presented. The first lie is muttered. Our parents pause to listen. Will they yield? Can they touch and taste? Alas! a perfect man is but a tottering reed. The one command is broken. Sin enters. Innocence expires. The life of God is extinguished in the soul. Adam hangs down his head, fallen and guilty, in a cursed and doomed earth!

It becomes us to consider well the miseries of this foul deed. It is the clue of all the dark confusion, which perplexes us without, and humbles us within. The universe moves not on the pivot of right order. The brier, the thorn, the hard toil tell of a cursed soil. The storm, the hurricane, the earthquake, the blight, the pestilence, proclaim, that displeasure frowns from heaven. All things, by tending to decay, show, that death wields an unrelenting scepter. The tears, the sighs, the groans, and all the train of sorrows, which follow in the rear of pain and bereavement, evidence that an angry God deals angrily. But this is not all. The bitterest curse fell on the heart. Alas! what a wilderness is it of hateful weeds! We read, and conscience echoes, it is true—"Every imagination of man's heart is only evil continually." "The Lord looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that understand and seek God. They are all gone aside—they are altogether become filthy. There is none that does good, no, not one." The mind is vain—the understanding darkened—ignorance sits as guide—right feeling has fled. The creature is worshiped and served more than the Creator. The faithful Witness states it. All experiences confirm it. The records of the fall explain it. All woe came hand in hand with sin!

"In Adam all die." Reader! next mark, how it is, that all our race had a share in the first sin. Adam stood before God, not as an isolated being, but as a common person. All generations were in his loins. The whole family of man were wrapped in that casket. As one seed holds a forest; so all nations of all ages were involved in this one head. As all rays are in one sun; so all descendants were in this common stock. Thus Adam's act affects each child born, as taint in the spring is taint in each issuing drop. It follows, then, that in him we break the Covenant of Works. We sin in his sin. We offend in his offence. We transgress in his transgression. We are guilty in his guilt. In him we depart from God. In him we enter the cells of wrath. In him we put on the prison-garb of condemnation. In him we receive the heritage of curse. Will pride, which finds all elements of good in self, deride this statement? Let it first show why infants die—and why the first thoughts are buds of evil. There is no better proof of nature's blindness, than such wallowings in the mists and mire of unscriptural conceit.

To this point, our view of Adam has been a cloud—gloomy, and scattering gloom. But look again. There are bright rays behind. As we mourn, the Spirit flies on wings of love to change the scene. Sweet voices cry, Adam "is the figure of Him who was to come!" "The first man Adam was made a living soul. The last Adam was made a quickening Spirit." "The first man is of the earth earthy. The second man is the Lord from heaven." "As in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." Blessed tidings!—blessed privilege to trace the likeness! May the Spirit help us now to look off from the sin-bringing to the sin-bearing Adam!

Is Adam the parent of the whole family of nature? So Christ is the parent of the whole family of grace. It is written, "He shall see His seed." "A seed shall serve Him." He is "the everlasting Father." As Adam is the stock of corruption and of death; so Christ creates anew to righteousness and life. He is a quickening Spirit. As those who are born after the flesh are flesh; so those who are thus born again are spirit. Their powers, and faculties, and perceptions are as light from darkness. Once they were a mass of death. Now they have ears to hear His call—and eyes to see His beauty—and mouths to worship God and sing His praise—and hands to cling to the cross—and feet to mount the hill of Zion. Once their hearts were stone—now every pulse is love. Once their taste was low and sordid as the earth—now they are high and pure as heaven. The best of books is their sweet pastime. The best of themes is their happy converse. New desires and sentiments prove that they are newborn. Such is the happy progeny of grace. They sit in harmony around the table of Christ, and adore Him as the author of their being, and their joy. Thus in Christ's garden, plants are made fit for the Paradise above—as in Adam's wasteland, weeds blacken for the burning.

But the contrast extends. Adam falls, and in him the world is cast down. Christ stands, and in Him all His seed lift up the head. He appears in flesh the common Head of His adopted ones. As such, He strides in triumph over every assault of Satan. As such, He moves in one unbroken, perfect course of pure and perfect love. God's fullest will is the one movement of His heart. His every member shares the victory and is righteous in the Righteousness. Thus each true believer boasts, "In the Lord I have righteousness," and knocks at heaven's gate with the unanswerable plea. In Christ, my law-fulfilling surety, I bring the Righteousness of God. Great was the loss in Adam; but far greater is the gain in Christ!

So likewise, as a common person, Jesus hangs upon the cross. In Him His people suffer unto death. In Him they exhaust the cup of wrath. In Him they taste the bitter pains, which sin deserved. In Him they pay the uttermost farthing into the scales of justice. In Him they endure, until each attribute of God requires no more. Thus each child of faith exclaims, with adoring praise, "I am crucified with Christ." Who can lay anything to the charge of one, who in Christ is discharged of all? In Adam we merit all wrath. In Christ we undergo it. Christ rises from the dead. The icy bands cannot detain Him. But still He holds His people in Himself. In Him each sees a pledge of that resurrection-morn, in which this corruptible shall put on incorruption, and death shall be swallowed up in victory. In Adam we crumble in the grave. In Christ we find it the gate of life. In Adam we lie down in beds of darkness. In Christ we put on light as our robe forever.

The work of redemption being ended, Jesus returns on high. Does He ascend disconnected from His members? Can the Head live apart? No! In Him they enter in and take their seats before the throne of God. It is not written without meaning or without truth—"He has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus." Every seat has been prepared from everlasting ages; and in the view of God no seat is vacant. Do you say this is a mystery? It is! But it is true as deep. And it is revealed for the believer's comfort. For what comfort like assurance of oneness with our Lord in all which He has done, and is now doing? It is, too, the seed of holiness; for who can dwell in spirit amid heaven's glories, and touch the debasing vanities of earth?

Reader! it is a clear fact, that natural birth has brought you into the old world of sin. How important the question, Has spiritual birth translated you into the new world of grace? It is so, if you are Christ's—and you are Christ's, if Christ is yours—and Christ is yours, if He dwells in the heart by sincere faith—and faith is sincere, which ventures on Him, and ventures wholly—which loves Him fully—which hears His voice and follows Him. If this evidence be absent, you are still in a land of ruin. And will you remain a wretched wreck? Oh! cry to Him, who always helps the helpless at their cry. Seek life from Him, who is the Lord of life. Apply for quickening to Him, who is the quickening Spirit.

John 6:1-4

The Disciples and the Crowds

1 After these things Jesus went over the sea of Galilee, which is the sea of Tiberias. 2 And a great multitude followed him, because they saw his miracles which he did on them that were diseased. 3 And Jesus went up into a mountain, and there he sat with his disciples. 4 And the passover, a feast of the Jews, was nigh.


As we begin the sixth chapter of this gospel, we find that a good deal of time had passed since the events of chapter five. The amount of time can only be guessed at, because we do not know which of the feasts is mentioned in 5:1. However, 6:4 tells us that the passover was at hand, which means that it was within thirty days of the feast and that at least five months had gone by.

Jesus crossed over the sea of Galilee to Bethsaida (Luk 9:10) on the northeastern side of the lake, where He found a remote spot on a mountainside (Mat 14:13; Mar 6:32; Luk 9:10). It appears that He wanted to spend some time alone with His disciples, but He also might have needed some rest and to be alone to pray.

This short introduction to the chapter gives us a picture of two different types of Jesus' followers, the twelve disciples and the multitudes.

The twelve disciples were with Jesus, because they believed that He was the Son of God and they wanted to know Him and to serve Him. The disciples wanted to be a part of the work that Jesus would accomplish, even though it was not exactly clear to them what that was going to be, and they enjoyed His fellowship and the opportunity to learn from Him. All of them had sacrificed their previous lives and businesses to follow Him.

If we want to follow Jesus, the disciples give us a good picture of what our lives should be like. We cannot be good disciples as long as we cling to our old lives and interests. Our focus must be on Him, to serve Him, to know Him, and to learn from Him. There must be a genuine love for Him and a desire to be a part of whatever He is doing. This requires sacrifice. There are so many distractions in today's technological world, that it is becoming harder and harder to find people who will focus their entire lives on Jesus. It seems like, the more we have, the more difficult it is to give it up for Him. Nevertheless, He continues to save a remnant and to build His church.

We also see that Jesus had a multitude of people following Him wherever he went, but their motives seemed to have been much different than those of the disciples. These people came with the desire to get something more materialistic from Him and they did not mind imposing on Him.

Throughout His ministry, Jesus had to contend with the crush of a crowd. In fact, there are 80 verses in the four gospels that mention the multitudes of people that constantly surrounded Him. Yet, He never ignored them, He never became angry with them, and He never sent them away without answering their prayers.

Unlike the disciples, however, these crowds came because they wanted to see a miracle, wanted to be healed from a disease, wanted to be fed, or wanted to hear Him speak. They all wanted something.

They were people who could turn against Him with little prompting. Later in His ministry, they would praise Him as He entered Jerusalem and, a few days later, shout "Crucify Him!" They came to see and hear Jesus for the wrong reasons, and they would end up as His enemies.

These multitudes have followed Him into the modern church. They come to be satisfied and they will fight for that satisfaction. They want to hear and sing their favorite style of music, worship the way they think is correct, and see a show that will entertain them for an hour. They want to be healed of their diseases or learn how to increase their own wealth. Church, to many of them, is a good place to make business contacts or just find new friends. If they do not get what they want, they will either leave or start an argument within the church.

How sad it is to have so few who just want to know and serve the Lord Jesus! To which group do you belong? Are you a disciple, sacrificing your old man on the cross with Jesus, or are you one of the crowd, uninvolved and in search of worldly satisfaction?

Before The Throne:

Pray that God will inspire you to desire the right things from your relationship with Him. Commit yourself to being a disciple, not part of the crowd. "And Jesus said unto him, No man, having put his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God." (Luk 9:62) Don't look back at what you have given up for Jesus. Look forward toward that day when you will be united with Him in eternity. Pray for His love and grace to be manifested through your life and work.

For Further Study:

(v.1)
** these. Mt 14:13,15-21; Mr 6:31,32,34,35-44; Luk 9:10-12,13-17; ** the sea. Num 34:11; Jos 12:3; Mt 4:18; 15:29; Luk 5:1; ** which. Jn 21:1;

(v.2) Mt 4:24,25; 8:1; 12:15; 13:2; 14:14; 15:30,31; Mr 6:33;

(v.3) Mt 14:23; 15:29; Luk 6:12,13; 9:28;

(v.4) Jn 2:13; 5:1; 11:55; 12:1; 13:1; Ex 12:6-14; Lev 23:5,7; Deut 16:1;