3315.) Jude

December 31, 2021

Jude  (ESV)

As we enter the New Year, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter.  

The Bible Project produces short videos that “help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.” It is entertaining and informative to watch and learn! 
HERE  is their 8-minute presentation on Jude. 


1Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James

Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ — The highest glory which any, either angel or man, can aspire to. The word servant, under the old covenant, was adapted to the spirit of fear and bondage that clave to that dispensation. But when the time appointed of the Father was come, for the sending of his Son to redeem them that were under the law, the word servant (used by the apostles concerning themselves and all the children of God) signified one that, having the Spirit of adoption, is made free by the Son of God. His being a servant is the fruit and perfection of his being a son. And whenever the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in the new Jerusalem, then will it be indeed that “his servants shall serve him,” Revelation 22:3.

–John Wesley

To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ:

We are called, beloved, and kept. Let that thought sink all the way in! What privilege, what inspiration is ours in that truth!

2May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.

Judgment on False Teachers

Here Jude warns readers to be on guard against all who might pervert the grace of God by teaching dangerous practices and doctrines that put the gospel of Jesus Christ in peril.

3Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

Jude wrestling

  • The ancient Greek word translated contend comes from the athletic world — the wrestling mat. It is a strengthened form of the word meaning “to agonize.” Contend speaks of hard and diligent work.
  • The verb translated contend earnestly is in the present infinitive, showing that the Christian struggle is continuous.

–David Guzik

“Fight the good fight of faith, and God will give you spiritual mercies.”

–George Whitefield

We are never to lie down and allow lies to take hold and fester. We are to relentlessly assault error with the truth. That is our battle.

–Brandon N. Davison

4For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Jude could not be more clear in his terminology when referring to false teachers. I have underlined the epithets he uses when speaking of false teachers. He bolsters his argument by giving three examples which show the certainty of God’s judgement against those “certain people” — the example of the people of Israel (verse 5), the example of the angels who sinned (verse 6), and the example of Sodom and Gomorrah (verse 7).

5Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day— 7just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

8Yet in like manner these people also, relying on their dreams, defile the flesh, reject authority, and blaspheme the glorious ones.

The post-modern culture of today dismisses the notion of any absolute authority and encourages individuals to be their own judges of what is right and what is wrong. People can do this by picking and choosing what in the Scripture they will believe and follow. Or they can do this by mixing up teachings from many religions and believing what they think is nice. Or we can do this by proclaiming ourselves to be Christians yet acting no differently from our non-believing neighbors. (Pause for self-examination.) Doesn’t it remind you of the book of Judges:  “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25).

9But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.” 10 But these people blaspheme all that they do not understand, and they are destroyed by all that they, like unreasoning animals, understand instinctively.

And now three more bad examples:  Cain, Balaam, and Korah. 

Cain offered his sacrifice to the Lord without faith, and was therefore unacceptable to God (Genesis 4, Hebrews 11:4). Then Cain became angry at his brother Abel (who had offered the Lord an acceptable offering) and killed him. Jude says that Cain typifies a way that the “certain men” follow in. It is the way of unbelief and empty religion, which leads to jealousy, persecution of the truly godly, and eventually to murderous anger.

The story of Balaam is found in Numbers 22 to 25 and 31. Balaam, a prophet, disobeyed the Lord’s plain instructions and tried to curse the people of Israel because he would be paid handsomely for doing so. Jude says there are “certain men” leading and teaching the church who are willing to sell out everything for personal financial gain.

Korah resented the authority that God had given to Moses and Aaron in the wilderness, and tried to get more power for himself. God destroyed him and his followers, as found in Numbers 16. “Certain men” try to do what they want for themselves rather than following Christ to the work he has called them to do.

11Woe to them! For they walked in the way of Cain and abandoned themselves for the sake of gain to Balaam’s error and perished in Korah’s rebellion. 12These are hidden reefs at your love feasts, as they feast with you without fear, shepherds feeding themselves; waterless clouds, swept along by winds; fruitless trees in late autumn, twice dead, uprooted; 13 wild waves of the sea, casting up the foam of their own shame; wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever.

2 Corinthians 10:5-6 (NIV)

We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ. And we will be ready to punish every act of disobedience, once your obedience is complete.

14It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

A Call to Persevere

17But you must remember, beloved, the predictions of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ. 18They said to you, “In the last time there will be scoffers, following their own ungodly passions.” 19It is these who cause divisions, worldly people, devoid of the Spirit.

Jude points out to his own people that nothing has happened which they might not have expected. The apostles had given warning that in the last times just such evil men as are now among them would come. The actual words of Jude’s quotation are not in any New Testament book. He may be doing any one of three things. He may be quoting some apostolic book which we no longer possess. He may be quoting, not a book, but some oral tradition of the apostolic preaching; or some sermon which he himself had heard from the apostles. He may be giving the general sense of a passage like 1 Timothy 4:1-3. In any event he is telling his people that error was only to be expected in the church. 

–William Barclay

20But you, beloved, building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in the love of God, waiting for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ that leads to eternal life.

Here James describes the characteristics of goodness.

(i) The good man builds up his life on the foundation of the most holy faith. That is to say, the life of the Christian is founded, not on something which he manufactured himself, but on something which he received. There is a chain in the transmission of the faith. The faith came from Jesus to the apostles; it came from the apostles to the church; and it comes from the church to us. There is something tremendous here. It means that the faith which we hold is not merely someone’s personal opinion; it is a revelation which came from Jesus Christ and was preserved and transmitted within his church, always under the care and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, from generation to generation.

(ii) The good man is a man of prayer. It has been put this way: “Real religion means dependence.” The essence of religion is the admission of our total dependence on God; and prayer is the acknowledging of that dependence, and the going to God for the help we need. As Moffatt has it in a magnificent definition: “Prayer is love in need appealing to love in power.”

(iii) The good man keeps himself in the love of God. What Jude is thinking of here is the old covenant relationship between God and his people as described in Exodus 24:1-8. God came to his people promising that he would be their God and they would be his people; but that relationship depended on their accepting and obeying the law which he gave them. “God’s love,” Moffatt comments, “has its own terms of communion.” It is true in one sense that we can never drift beyond God’s love and care; but it is also true that, if we desire to remain in close communion with God, we must give him the perfect love and the perfect obedience which must ever go hand in hand.

(iv) The good man waits with expectation. He waits for the coming of Jesus Christ in mercy, love and power; for he knows that Christ’s purpose for him is to bring him to life eternal, which is nothing other than the life of God himself.

–William Barclay

22And have mercy on those who doubt; 23save others by snatching them out of the fire; to others show mercy with fear, hating even the garment stained by the flesh.


 24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Having warned us about the destiny of false teachers, as well as our need to build ourselves up in the faith and pursue those led astray by error, Jude concludes his letter with one of the most beautiful doxologies found in the Bible. It is indeed right for Jude to end with praise and worship, for what else can we do but give glory to God once we have received His Word?

This doxology teaches us several things about our Lord. Verse 24 tells us God is able to keep us from stumbling. “Stumbling” here is a reference to eternal stumbling; thus, this verse assures us of the power of God to keep His people in His grace, thus securing us in our salvation. Those with true faith will not finally fall away.

This does not mean God’s people are incapable of committing gross sins. In fact, the examples of David (2 Sam. 11) and Peter (Luke 22:54–62) show us those with faith can fall into heinous sin. While God is certainly able to keep His people from such sins, there is no guarantee He will do so. But though they may sin, they may always return to Him in faith before they die (John 6:35–40).

We must never use this promise of preservation to presume upon the kindness of God. When we disobey Him, the fault is our own; we cannot blame Him for not keeping us from sinning (James 1:13–15). We are called to keep ourselves from wickedness (Jude 20–23), and all those whom God preserves will grow more eager over the course of their lives to flee from even the appearance of evil. Still, while we must continue to fight against sin, it is God’s preserving power that keeps us eternally safe. 

The remainder of the doxology offers “glory, majesty, dominion, and authority” to God through Jesus Christ, who as the God-man is our mediator now and forever. Let us then be quick always to offer praises to the Lord of glory through His only begotten Son.




1) Several years ago my late father, then aged 96, visited us, and we talked at some length about his time fighting in New Guinea during World War II. He said something which quite moved me — that it was in battle where he learned what kind of a man he was. But actually, isn’t that true for all of us? It is the hard times which show most truly our inner character.

Jude calls us to be contenders for the faith, willing to fight against our own selfish desires and habits, against the perverse and unkind ways of the world. Jude cheers us on to work at building our faith and prayer life, to love each other with mercy and Christ-likeness. It is not necessarily easy, but it is of eternal value. My prayer for all of us readers of DWELLING in the Word is that we will not grow weary in the battles of our lives, but keep our eyes on Jesus, who has already, and forever, won the victory!

HERE  is a rousing version of “Lead On, O King Eternal”!

2) The benediction in the last lines of Jude is truly beautiful, and has been put to music a number of times. Some choices for you:  HERE  from Maranatha.  HERE  from a Salvation Army young men’s quartet.  HERE  for an acapella version. Let this praise and blessing follow you all day!


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Contend for the faith.   https://www.thechurchatasheville.com/bible-study/jude-the-urgency-of-believers/
wrestling.   http://media.lehighvalleylive.com/sports_impact/photo/austin-sommer-and-shawn-greevy-a10bbc9fd15d132c.jpg
Post-modernism.   http://farisyakob.typepad.com/blog/images/pomo.jpg
Calvin.   http://images.fanpop.com/images/image_uploads/calvin-angry-calvin–26-hobbes-318681_366_362.jpg
Take captive every thought.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/thoughts1.jpg
keep you from falling.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/27sepp270ms800x500.jpg

3314.) 3 John

December 30, 2021

3 John  (NLT)

As we enter the New Year, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter. 


1This letter is from John, the elder.   I am writing to Gaius, my dear friend, whom I love in the truth.

Who is this Gaius? Other than that he is presented as a good example, it is hard to know. David Guzik tells us that Gaius was one of the most common names in the Roman Empire!

2 Dear friend, I hope all is well with you and that you are as healthy in body as you are strong in spirit.

“Beloved, I wish above all things that you might prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers” (3 John 2).

How do prosperity and health come? By a prospering soul!
Regardless of Joseph’s circumstances (as a slave, in prison, as Pharaoh’s right-hand man), he kept trusting in God.
We, too, should prosper and be in health, because Christ REDEEMED our whole man—spirit, soul, and body.
Jesus said that He came to earth and died for us that “we might enjoy life, and have it in abundance until it overflows” (John 10:10). 
It is up to us “to renew our minds” (Eph. 4:23) with the Word and to allow our mouths to SPEAK God’s Word, instead of all our problems and negativity.
“The Lord is faithful to all His promises and loving toward all He has made” (Ps. 145:13).

–my friend LeLe Longsdorf

3 Some of the traveling teachers recently returned and made me very happy by telling me about your faithfulness and that you are living according to the truth. 4 I could have no greater joy than to hear that my children are following the truth.

Caring for the Lord’s Workers

 5 Dear friend, you are being faithful to God when you care for the traveling teachers who pass through, even though they are strangers to you.

Matthew 25:21 (NIV)

His master replied, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

6 They have told the church here of your loving friendship. Please continue providing for such teachers in a manner that pleases God. 7 For they are traveling for the Lord, and they accept nothing from people who are not believers. 8So we ourselves should support them so that we can be their partners as they teach the truth.

Here we come to John’s main object in writing. A group of travelling missionaries is on its way to the church of which Gaius is a member, and John urges him to receive them, to give them every support and to send them on their way in a truly Christian manner.

In the ancient world hospitality was a sacred duty. Strangers were under the protection of Zeus Xenios, Zeus the god of strangers. In the ancient world inns were notoriously unsatisfactory, dirty and flea-infested. The ancient world had a system of guest-friendships whereby families in different parts of the country undertook to give each other’s members hospitality when the occasion arose. This connection between families lasted throughout the generations.

If the heathen world accepted the obligation of hospitality, it was only to be expected that the Christians would take it even more seriously. It is Peter’s injunction: “Practice hospitality ungrudgingly to one another” (1 Peter 4:9). “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” says the writer to the Hebrews, and adds: “for thereby some have entertained angels unawares” (Hebrews 13:2). In the Pastoral Epistles a widow is to be honoured if she has “shown hospitality” (1 Timothy 5:9). Paul bids the Romans to “practice hospitality” (Romans 12:13).

In the early church the Christian home was the place of the open door and the loving welcome. The Christian family circle should always be wide enough to have a place for the stranger, no matter where he comes from or what his colour.

–William Barclay

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

“For His name’s sake they went forth” — 3 John 7

Our Lord has told us how love to Him is to manifest itself. “Lovest thou Me?” “Feed My sheep” — identify yourself with My interests in other people, not, identify Me with your interests in other people. The key to missionary devotion means being attached to nothing and no one saving Our Lord Himself. Loyalty to Jesus Christ is the supernatural work of redemption wrought in me by the Holy Ghost, Who sheds abroad the love of God in my heart; that love works efficaciously through me in contact with everyone I meet.

9 I wrote to the church about this, but Diotrephes, who loves to be the leader, refuses to have anything to do with us (obviously, a bad example). 10 When I come, I will report some of the things he is doing and the evil accusations he is making against us. Not only does he refuse to welcome the traveling teachers, he also tells others not to help them. And when they do help, he puts them out of the church.

11 Dear friend, don’t let this bad example influence you. Follow only what is good. Remember that those who do good prove that they are God’s children, and those who do evil prove that they do not know God.

Psalm 37:27 (NLT)

Turn from evil and do good,
      and you will live in the land forever.

12 Everyone speaks highly of Demetrius (another good example), as does the truth itself. We ourselves can say the same for him, and you know we speak the truth.


13 I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to write it with pen and ink. 14For I hope to see you soon, and then we will talk face to face. 15 Peace be with you.

Your friends here send you their greetings. Please give my personal greetings to each of our friends there.

from the Life Application Bible:

“Whereas 2 John emphasizes the need to refuse hospitality to false teachers, 3 John urges continued hospitality to those who teach the truth. Hospitality is a strong sign of support for people and their work. It means giving them of your resources so their stay will be comfortable and their work and travel easier. Actively look for creative ways to show hospitality to God’s workers. It may be in the form of a letter of encouragement, a gift, financial support, an open home, or prayer.”

Four women have taught me much about hospitality:

1) My mother, Maurine Riskedahl, was a good cook and an interesting conversationalist. (I am grateful that I now have her good dishes—Haviland—that she bought with money from her first year teaching in Adel, Iowa, in 1942-3.) One of her wonderful hospitality traditions:  Every year Mother put on a “Christmas Tea” at our house for my father’s co-workers and also for all the faculty and staff at our high school; she served seven different kinds of homemade Norwegian holiday delicacies along with a variety of other goodies. It was a lot of work but it was also a joy for her.

2)  My aunt, Genevieve Wilson, made everything so pretty at her table and in her home. Even as a young widow with a daughter, living very frugally, she still supported a missions child overseas. Later in her life she opened her home to visiting missionaries from around the world and cheerfully, generously, supported them. She was another excellent cook; you never arrived at her house without soon having a spread before you of homemade muffins, cookies, bars, breads!

3)  My friend Sue Awes articulated what Mother and Aunt Gen did but never expressed so clearly — that hospitality is a gift from the heart. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but it should show tender, loving care, with your own creative touch! Some years ago I was on a mission trip with Sue, and I will never forget watching her teach, so joyfully, a group of older Russian orphan girls the basics of gracious hospitality (a piece of fruit in a colorful bowl on the table, a flower in a pretty bottle at the bedside . . . ). Sitting with Sue around a table always brought up the most stimulating conversations, for she shared her heart with you.

4)  My friend Linda Wallace makes hospitality seem simple and fun, as if you are doing her a favor by being her guest! Her warm and unpretentious ease when making you feel at home is pure elegance, pure grace. And I must mention her delicious bran muffins and lemon-filled creme puffs! To be Linda’s guest is truly to be given a foretaste of things to come above!

Who has taught you?  Who are you teaching?  Do it as unto the Lord, as these four women have!



HERE  in this song, “Remembrance (Communion Song)” by Matt Redman, my favorite line is “Now the simple made divine” — for that is the transforming power of Christian hospitality.


New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Thanks – hospitality.   http://ak.imgfarm.com/images/fwp/myfuncards/ThankYou/lg/st_hospitality2.jpg
Trinity.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/trinity.gif
do good.    http://media.tumblr.com/tumblr_ls57vmTBWj1qij8g6.jpg
Thank you for your hospitality.    https://sweetlovemessages.net/thank-you-messages-for-hospitality-and-generosity/

3313.) 2 John

December 29, 2021

John, “the elder,” is one of Jesus’ twelve disciples and the writer of the Gospel of John, three letters, and the book of Revelation.

2 John  (NLT)

As we enter the New Year, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter. 


1This letter is from John, the elder.   I am writing to the chosen lady and to her children, whom I love in the truth—as does everyone else who knows the truth—2 because the truth lives in us and will be with us forever.

Perhaps this was an individual Christian woman John wanted to warn and encourage by this letter. Or, the term might be a symbolic way of addressing this particular congregation.

John probably did not name himself, the elect lady or her children by name because this was written during a time of persecution. Perhaps John didn’t want to implicate anyone by name in a written letter. If the letter was intercepted and the authorities knew who it was written to by name, it might mean death for those persons.

–David Guzik

3 Grace, mercy, and peace, which come from God the Father and from Jesus Christ—the Son of the Father—will continue to be with us who live in truth and love.

Grace takes away guilt; mercy, misery: peace implies the abiding in grace and mercy. It includes the testimony of God’s Spirit, both that we are his children, and that all our ways are acceptable to him. This is the very foretaste of heaven itself, where it is perfected.

–John Wesley

Now these are good gifts from God, for which we should daily give thanks! — grace, mercy, peace, truth, love!

Live in the Truth

4How happy I was to meet some of your children and find them living according to the truth, just as the Father commanded.

5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.

If we love God, we will obey His commandments. We do this not as if His commandments are heavy burdens, but because we see that they are best for us. They are guides and gifts to us from God.

Mark 12:28-33 (NLT)

One of the teachers of religious law was standing there listening to the debate. He realized that Jesus had answered well, so he asked, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?”

Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The Lord our God is the one and only Lord.  And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’  The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”

The teacher of religious law replied, “Well said, Teacher. You have spoken the truth by saying that there is only one God and no other.  And I know it is important to love him with all my heart and all my understanding and all my strength, and to love my neighbor as myself. This is more important than to offer all of the burnt offerings and sacrifices required in the law.”

7 I say this because many deceivers have gone out into the world. They deny that Jesus Christ came in a real body. Such a person is a deceiver and an antichrist.

Wesley explains that “antichrist” here is anyone who is fighting against Christ and His ways.

8 Watch out that you do not lose what we have worked so hard to achieve. Be diligent so that you receive your full reward. 9 Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.

10 If anyone comes to your meeting and does not teach the truth about Christ, don’t invite that person into your home or give any kind of encouragement. 11 Anyone who encourages such people becomes a partner in their evil work.

In the early church of John’s day, teachers traveled from place to place and Christians were expected to open their homes to them in kind hospitality. John instructs first century Christians to judge the veracity of the various teachers before welcoming them in. In our day, we can open our homes and our minds to all kinds of false teaching in many ways, including via televisions and computers. Beware, John says, that you are learning the truth about God from these teachers. Choose thoughtfully your books, movies, and TV entertainment. Know what is being taught in your own congregation, your children’s schools, your church colleges and seminaries. Stand up for the truth of Christ! Do not be led astray and in so doing, lose your reward.


12I have much more to say to you, but I don’t want to do it with paper and ink. For I hope to visit you soon and talk with you face to face. Then our joy will be complete. 13 Greetings from the children of your sister, chosen by God.



HERE  is an instrumental version of the hymn “I Would Be True,” something the Apostle John certainly demonstrated for us all! May we be imitators of John, as he was of Christ!

The composer of the tune is Joseph Y. Peek; the arrangement is by David H. Hegarty.

The text for “I Would Be True,” was written by a young man in his early twenties in a poem that he titled “My Creed.” After graduating with honors from Princeton University in 1905, Howard Arnold Walter spent a year teaching the English language in Japan. While there he sent a copy of his “creed” to his mother back home in Connecticut. Mrs. Walter sent the poem to Harper’s Magazine, where it appeared in the May, 1907 issue.

Returning to the United States, Howard Walter entered Hartford Seminary and upon graduation served as an assistant minister at the Asylum Hill Congregational Church in Hartford, Connecticut. One day he showed his poem to an itinerant Methodist lay preacher, Joseph Peek. Although Peek had no technical knowledge of music, he immediately whistled a tune suited to Walter’s words.

Several years later, Howard Walter left for India to teach and minister. He died there in 1918, during an influenza epidemic.

  1. I would be true, for there are those who trust me;
    I would be pure, for there are those who care;
    I would be strong, for there is much to suffer;
    I would be brave, for there is much to dare.
  2. I would be friend of all—the foe, the friendless;
    I would be giving, and forget the gift;
    I would be humble, for I know my weakness;
    I would look up, and laugh, and love, and lift.
  3. I would be faithful through each passing moment;
    I would be constantly in touch with God;
    I would be strong to follow where He leads me;
    I would have faith to keep the path Christ trod.
  4. Who is so low that I am not his brother?
    Who is so high that I’ve no path to him?
    Who is so poor I may not feel his hunger?
    Who is so rich I may not pity him?
  5. Who is so hurt I may not know his heartache?
    Who sings for joy my heart may never share?
    Who in God’s heav’n has passed beyond my vision?
    Who to hell’s depths where I may never fare.
  6. May none, then, call on me for understanding,
    May none, then, turn to me for help in pain,
    And drain alone his bitter cup of sorrow,
    Or find he knocks upon my heart in vain.


New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
St. John.    https://readingacts.files.wordpress.com/2012/11/john-icon.jpeg
truth in love.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/truth_in_love1.jpg
love God, love people.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/love-god-love-people.png
welcome.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/welcome.jpg

3312.) Philemon

December 28, 2021

A hundred years after Christ, the bishop of Ephesus was a man named Onesimus. Ancient tradition says he is the same Onesimus as in this letter.

Philemon  (English Standard Version)

As we enter the New Year, we are looking at the five books in the Bible that have only one chapter. 

The Bible Project produces short videos that “help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.” It is entertaining and informative to watch and learn! 
HERE  is their 6.5-minute presentation on Philemon.


1Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus,

General agreement is that Paul wrote this personal letter during his first imprisonment in Rome, a house arrest as described in Acts 28:30-31. He does not, however, describe himself as a prisoner of Rome. He sees himself as a prisoner in obedience to the call of the Lord Jesus Christ.

and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker 2and Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Map of Asia Minor (present-day Turkey) showing the town of Colosse. Smyrna is present-day Izmir.

Philemon was a Greek landowner living in Colosse. He had been converted under Paul’s ministry and now his house serves as the meeting place for the church there. (Perhaps Apphia was his wife and Archippus his son — but that is speculation.)

One scholar has written:  

“Up to the third century we have no certain evidence of the existence of church buildings for the purpose of worship; all references point to private houses for this. In Rome several of the oldest churches appear to have been built on the sites of houses used for Christian worship.”

3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon’s Love and Faith

4 I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Philemon had been a blessing to Paul. He had opened his heart and his home to the followers of Jesus.

Paul’s Plea for Onesimus

8Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, 9yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you—I, Paul, an old man and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus— 10I appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.

Now we get to the point of this letter. Onesimus was a domestic slave who belonged to Philemon. Onesimus had run away from Philemon to Rome, where he had run into Paul (a close friend of Philemon — cue the music “It’s a Small World After All” . . .) and been brought to Christ, or as Paul says, he “became my son.” A master in the Roman Empire had the legal right to kill a runaway slave. Paul wants to show Philemon a better way.

11(Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.)

This is a cute play on words from Paul — the name “Onesimus” means “useful” or “profitable.”

12I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart. 13I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, 14but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord.

Clearly, Paul wanted Onesimus to stay, because he had become a big help. Paul sweetened his appeal in three ways.

First, if Onesimus stayed he could serve Paul on your behalf. “Philemon, if you leave Onesimus with me, it’s like you serving me, because Onesimus is your rightful servant.”

Secondly, if Onesimus stayed he helped a man in chains. “Philemon, I know Onesimus might be of some use to you. Yet I am in chains, and need all the help I can get.”

Thirdly, if Onesimus stayed he helped man in chains for the gospel. “Philemon, please don’t forget why I am here in chains. Remember that it is for the sake of the gospel.

Paul made his appeal and made it strong and skillfully. At the same time, he really did leave the decision to Philemon. He would appeal in love, but he would not trample over the rights of Philemon.

–David Guzik

15For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while,

Again we see Paul’s diplomacy and facility with language. How much nicer it sounds to say “he was parted from you” than “your slave ran away from you.”

that you might have him back forever, 16no longer as a slave but more than a slave, as a beloved brother—especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

Paul is asking no small thing — that Philemon see his runaway slave now as his own brother, his equal in Christ!

Colossians 3:1, 11

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

17So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. 18If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.

What an encouragement this must have been to Onesimus! Paul’s genuine love for him surely strengthened his new faith!

19 I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it—to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. 20Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. 22At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

Final Greetings

23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, 24and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

Each of these names is also mentioned in the conclusion of the letter to the Colossians (Colossians 4:10-17)

25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.


Martin Luther liked this short book. “This epistle,” he wrote, “shows a right noble lovely example of Christian love…. Even as Christ did for us with God the Father, thus also does St. Paul for Onesimus with Philemon… We are all his Onesimi, to my thinking.”


Did Onesimus go back? Did Philemon welcome him as a brother? We do not know. Yet — who could refuse Paul’s heartfelt request?

The letter to Philemon is all about reconciliation. Our world, like Paul’s, is filled with barriers between people — race, social class, age, political leaning, ethnicity, language, gender, and so on. Other separations come from disagreements and quarrels and misunderstandings. This letter proclaims the good news that Christ can transform even seemingly hopelessly broken relationships into deep and loving friendships. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ in our spirits allow these transformations to happen in us and through us, to the glory of God!



HERE  is a beautiful song — “Song of Reconciliation”  sung by Susan Ashton, Margaret Becker, and Christine Dente.  Lyrics follow.

Where there is love there is a peace
And in the cages that bind the bitter heart it is release
Hold it close to your chest, let it move and let it rest
For it is here to set your mind at ease
Where there is love there is a peace

Where there is hope there is a dream
To rise above, to remit and to redeem
To go back, to go where there’s no hurt or anger there
To find the song that you once could sing
Where there is hope there is a dream

Where there is faith there is a chance
To alter the course and fight the winds of circumstance
Not to scar, but mend, not to break, but to bend
And not to know but to understand
Where there is faith there is a chance
Where there is hope there is a dream
Where there is love there is a peace


English Standard Version (ESV)   The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Onesimus.   https://akroasis.org/2019/02/15/science-of-the-saints-15-february/
map.     http://oneyearbibleimages.com/colossae.jpg
heart and home.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/homeiswheretheheartis.jpg
if you please.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/if-you-please.jpg
clasped hands.    http://www.britsattheirbest.com/images/h_alban_hands_220w.jpg
“Philemon: Forgiveness that leads to Reconciliation.”     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/philemon-title-slide-slide01.jpg
Paul, signature.   http://www.rowforhope.com/html/images/Paul%20-%20Signature.GIF

3311.) Obadiah

December 27, 2021

Obadiah  (NLT)

As we enter the New Year, we are looking at the five books in the Bible which have only one chapter. 

The Bible Project produces short videos that “help people experience the Bible as a unified story that leads to Jesus.” It is entertaining and informative to watch and learn! 
HERE  is their 5-minute presentation on Obadiah.

 1 This is the vision that the Sovereign Lord revealed to Obadiah (a prophet from Judah) concerning the land of Edom.

Edom was the rocky range of mountains east of the Arabah, stretching about 100 miles north and south, and about 20 miles east and west. It was well watered, with abundant pasturage. Sela (Petra), carved high in a perpendicular cliff, overlooking a valley of marvellous beauty, far back in the mountain canyons, was the capital. Edomites would go out on raiding expeditions, and then retreat to their impregnable strongholds high up in the rocky gorges.

Edomites were descendants of Esau, but were always bitter enemies of the Jews, perpetuating the enmity of Esau and Jacob (Genesis 25:23, 27:41). They refused passage to Moses (Numbers 20:14-21) and were always ready to aid an attacking army.

–from Halley’s Bible Handbook

Edom’s Judgment Announced

We have heard a message from the Lord
that an ambassador was sent to the nations to say,
“Get ready, everyone!
Let’s assemble our armies and attack Edom!”

2 The Lord says to Edom,
“I will cut you down to size among the nations;
you will be greatly despised.
3 You have been deceived by your own pride

Proverbs 16:18 (NIV)

   Pride goes before destruction,
   a haughty spirit before a fall.

because you live in a rock fortress
and make your home high in the mountains.
‘Who can ever reach us way up here?’
you ask boastfully.

Petra  is a historical and archaeological city in the Jordanian governorate of Ma’an that is famous for its rock cut architecture and water conduits system. Established sometime around the 6th century BC as the capital city of the Nabataeans, it is a symbol of Jordan as well as its most visited tourist attraction. It lies on the slope of Mount Hor in a basin among the mountains which form the eastern flank of Arabah (Wadi Araba), the large valley running from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.  Petra has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1985.

The site remained unknown to the Western world until 1812, when it was introduced by Swiss explorer Johann Ludwig Burckhardt. It was described as “a rose-red city half as old as time” in a poem by John William Burgon. UNESCO has described it as “one of the most precious cultural properties of man’s cultural heritage.” Petra was chosen by the BBC as one of “the 40 places you have to see before you die.”


So they boasted of their natural defenses . . .

4 But even if you soar as high as eagles
and build your nest among the stars,
I will bring you crashing down,”
says the Lord.

5 “If thieves came at night and robbed you
(what a disaster awaits you!),
they would not take everything.
Those who harvest grapes
always leave a few for the poor.
But your enemies will wipe you out completely!
6 Every nook and cranny of Edom
will be searched and looted.
Every treasure will be found and taken.

7 “All your allies will turn against you.

. . . and they boasted of their alliances . . .

They will help to chase you from your land.
They will promise you peace
while plotting to deceive and destroy you.
Your trusted friends will set traps for you,
and you won’t even know about it.
8 At that time not a single wise person
will be left in the whole land of Edom,”
says the Lord.

“Job and his friends” by Eberhard Waechter (1762-1852)

. . . and they boasted of their wisdom.

Speaking of men who were regarded as wise — Eliphaz, one of Job’s three friends (Job 2:11), was from Teman in Edom. Herod the Great was also an Edomite (Luke 1:5), but we can’t count him among the wise!

“For on the mountains of Edom
I will destroy everyone who has understanding.
9 The mightiest warriors of Teman
will be terrified,
and everyone on the mountains of Edom
will be cut down in the slaughter.

Reasons for Edom’s Punishment

10 “Because of the violence you did
to your close relatives in Israel,
you will be filled with shame
and destroyed forever.
11 When they were invaded,
you stood aloof, refusing to help them.
Foreign invaders carried off their wealth
and cast lots to divide up Jerusalem,
but you acted like one of Israel’s enemies.

“Death of Caesar” by Vincenzo Camuccini

from Morning and Evening,
by Charles Haddon Spurgeon

“Even thou wast as one of them.” –Obadiah 1:11

Brotherly kindness was due from Edom to Israel in the time of need, but instead thereof, the men of Esau made common cause with Israel’s foes. Special stress in the sentence before us is laid upon the word thou; as when Caesar cried to Brutus, “and thou Brutus”; a bad action may be all the worse, because of the person who has committed it. When we sin, who are the chosen favorites of heaven, we sin with an emphasis; ours is a crying offense, because we are so peculiarly indulged. If an angel should lay his hand upon us when we are doing evil, he need not use any other rebuke than the question, “What thou? What dost thou here?” Much forgiven, much delivered, much instructed, much enriched, much blessed, shall we dare to put forth our hand unto evil? God forbid!

A few minutes of confession may be beneficial to thee, gentle reader, this day. Hast thou never been as the wicked? At an evening party certain men laughed at uncleanness, and the joke was not altogether offensive to thine ear, even thou wast as one of them. When hard things were spoken concerning the ways of God, thou wast bashfully silent; and so, to on-lookers, thou wast as one of them. When worldlings were bartering in the market, and driving hard bargains, wast thou not as one of them? When they were pursuing vanity with a hunter’s foot, wert thou not as greedy for gain as they were? Could any difference be discerned between thee and them? Is there any difference? Here we come to close quarters. Be honest with thine own soul, and make sure that thou art a new creature in Christ Jesus; but when this is sure, walk jealously, lest any should again be able to say, “Even thou wast as one of them.” Thou wouldst not desire to share their eternal doom, why then be like them here? Come not thou into their secret, lest thou come into their ruin. Side with the afflicted people of God, and not with the world.

12 “You should not have gloated
when they exiled your relatives to distant lands.
You should not have rejoiced
when the people of Judah suffered such misfortune.

1 Corinthians 13:6 (NIV)

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.

You should not have spoken arrogantly
in that terrible time of trouble.
13 You should not have plundered the land of Israel
when they were suffering such calamity.
You should not have gloated over their destruction
when they were suffering such calamity.

Amos 1:11-12 (NCV)

This is what the Lord says:
    “For the many crimes of Edom,
       I will punish them.
    They hunted down their relatives, the Israelites, with the sword,
       showing them no mercy.
    They were angry all the time
       and kept on being very angry.
So I will send fire on the city of Teman
       that will even destroy the strong buildings of Bozrah.”

You should not have seized their wealth
when they were suffering such calamity.
14 You should not have stood at the crossroads,
killing those who tried to escape.
You should not have captured the survivors
and handed them over in their terrible time of trouble.

All in all, Edom treated God’s people terribly when distress and calamity came upon them. For all this, God’s judgment was coming upon them.

  • First they did nothing
  • Then they rejoiced in their distress and calamity
  • Then they took advantage of their vulnerable state
  • Then they joined in the violence against God’s people

–David Guzik

Edom Destroyed, Israel Restored

15 “The day is near when I, the Lord,
will judge all godless nations!
As you have done to Israel,
so it will be done to you.
All your evil deeds
will fall back on your own heads.

God will give simple justice to the Edomites, no more and no less. What they did to the people of Judah will also be done to them. The same principle is often true for us, so if we want mercy from God, we do well to give mercy to others.

16 Just as you swallowed up my people
on my holy mountain,
so you and the surrounding nations
will swallow the punishment I pour out on you.
Yes, all you nations will drink and stagger
and disappear from history.

17 “But Jerusalem will become a refuge for those who escape;
it will be a holy place.
And the people of Israel will come back
to reclaim their inheritance.
18 The people of Israel will be a raging fire,
and Edom a field of dry stubble.
The descendants of Joseph will be a flame
roaring across the field, devouring everything.
There will be no survivors in Edom.
I, the Lord, have spoken!

The trials and burdens among God’s people are only temporary, because among them they will find a refuge and they will reclaim their inheritance. However, the attack coming against Edom will be different — Israel will be the fire and they will be the stubble, and Edom will be completely devoured.

The word of the Lord through Obadiah proved true. The Edomites fought side by side with the Jews the rebellion against Rome in 66-70 A.D. and were crushed by Rome, never to be heard of as a people again. The predictions of Obadiah 1:10 and 1:18 were precisely fulfilled. You just won’t meet an Edomite today.

–David Guzik

19 “Then my people living in the Negev
will occupy the mountains of Edom.
Those living in the foothills of Judah
will possess the Philistine plains
and take over the fields of Ephraim and Samaria.
And the people of Benjamin
will occupy the land of Gilead.
20 The exiles of Israel will return to their land
and occupy the Phoenician coast as far north as Zarephath.
The captives from Jerusalem exiled in the north
will return home and resettle the towns of the Negev.
21 Those who have been rescued will go up to Mount Zion in Jerusalem
to rule over the mountains of Edom.
And the Lord himself will be king!”

Revelation 11:15 (NIV)

The seventh angel sounded his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, which said:

   “The kingdom of the world has become
   the kingdom of our Lord and of his Messiah,
   and he will reign for ever and ever.”



HERE  is “King of Kings” — a Messianic praise song sung by Karen Davis. What a joy it will be, to sing to Jesus together with all the saints and the angels in heaven!


New Living Translation (NLT)    Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Obadiah title.  http://jimlepage.com/blog/word-obadiah
Petra.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/petra.jpg
Waechter.   http://media.kunst-fuer-alle.de/img/41/m/41_00288012~eberhard-waechter_job-and-his-friends.jpg
Camuccini.   http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/ac/Cesar-sa_mort.jpg/400px-Cesar-sa_mort.jpg
Love never fails.   https://darrellcreswell.wordpress.com/2011/03/14/true-love-never-fails/
bad choice.    http://whimsicalleaf.blogspot.com/2012/11/wrong-choices.html
all gone.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/allgone.jpg
King Jesus.  http://www.clarion-call.org/yeshua/feasts/rosh/jesus2.gif

3310.) Christmas Eve

December 24, 2021

“The Nativity” fresco by Giotto, 1310 (the Church of St. Francis, Assisi, Italy)

Thoughts on Christmas Eve, that most tender evening . . .

To all of my readers —

I wish you a most blessed Christmas, with the hope that our DWELLING together in the truth of the Word of God is transforming us all, day by day, more and more, into the likeness of this Child, the Christ.

With love in Jesus’ Name,

Rebecca Mitchell


Luke 2:7 (King James Version)

And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.

*     *     *     *     *

from Wishful Thinking:  A Seeker’s ABC,
by Frederick Buechner


Unlike Buddhism or Hinduism, biblical faith takes history very seriously because God takes it very seriously. He took it seriously enough to begin it and to enter it and to promise that one day he will bring it to a serious close. The biblical view is that history is not an absurdity to be endured or an illusion to be dispelled or an endlessly repeating cycle to be escaped. Instead it is for each of us a series of crucial, precious, and unrepeatable moments that are seeking to lead us somewhere.

The true history of humankind and the true history of each individual has less to do than we tend to think with the kind of information that gets into most histories, biographies, and autobiographies. True history has to do with the saving and losing of souls, and both of these are apt to take place when most people—including the one whose soul is at stake—are looking the other way. The real turning point in our lives is less likely to be the day we win the election or get married, than the morning we decide not to mail the letter or the afternoon we watch the woods fill up with snow. The real turning point in human history is less apt to be the day the wheel is invented or Rome falls, than the night a boy is born to a couple of Jews.



HERE  is Celine Dion performing ”O Holy Night.’


We do not believe that the virgin mother gave birth to a son and that he is the Lord and Savior unless, added to this,
I believe the second thing, namely, that he is my Savior and Lord.

Martin Luther, “Sermon on the Afternoon of Christmas Day 1530”

*     *     *     *     *

Ps98 nativity set

17th century English poet Richard Crashaw:

“In the Holy Nativity of our Lord”

Welcome, all wonders in one sight!
Eternity shut in a span;
Summer in winter; day in night;
Heaven in earth, and God in man.
Great little one!  Whose all-embracing birth
Lifts earth to heaven, stoops heav’n to earth.


Images courtesy of:
Giotto.   https://wikioo.org/es/paintings.php?refarticle=8YDJ54&titlepainting=Nativity%20(North%20transept,%20Lower%20Church,%20San%20Francesco,%20Assisi)&artistname=Giotto%20Di%20Bondone
Irish nativity set.    https://www.worthpoint.com/worthopedia/pipka-nativity-set-holy-irish-130049830

3309.) Christmas in the Old Testament

December 23, 2021

The Coming of Christ, as foretold

in the Old Testament

Genesis 3:13-15

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”

The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”

So the LORD God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
and you will eat dust
all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
and you will strike his heel.”

“Eve, After Eating the Forbidden Fruit” by Anna Lea Merritt, c. 1890


Genesis 22:15-18

The angel of the LORD called to Abraham from heaven a second time and said, “I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son,  I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,  and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”

“The Binding of Isaac” by Alan Falk, 2002


Isaiah 9:6-7

For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.


Isaiah 7:14

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.

from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

What a different picture Jesus gives us of God from that which we naturally develop.  For a long time I understood God to be the sovereign Lord and final Judge, who sat on his throne watching for my failures so he could chastise me and remind me of the vast gulf that exists between him and me.  But this is no the biblical picture of God.  God is Lord and Judge, but he is also Immanuel, “God with us” — and the preposition with carries remarkable overtones.

The with speaks of identification.  God, in Christ, became a man.  Distance and otherness were bridged by that with in Immanuel.  He took our state, and he took our problem.  Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:21 that “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us.”  He took our alienation and our death when he cried, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46).

But God wanted that with to be reciprocal.  He decided to be one with us because he wanted us to be one with him.  And the astounding thing is that he wanted us to be with him in more than destiny.  The with speaks of more than place.  It also speaks of character.  That is why God insisted that Israel be holy.  They needed to be holy if they were to fulfill their mission as a holy nation.  They needed even more to be holy if they were to be with him because he said, “I am holy.”  That is why one of God’s most glorious promises in Scripture is the reference to every believer in the New Testament as a saint.  The Father, through Christ’s sacrifice of himself as one of us, can put his life into us until we, who by nature are sinners, can become companions with God.  Yes, and more than companions.  We are to be children of the Father and the very bride of his Son.  Jesus is “Immanuel,” “God with us,” so that we can be with him in a remarkable way.



HERE  is a wonderful Advent carol which speaks of the prophets and their names for the coming Christ Child. “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” by Pentatonix.

O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here

Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

O come, O come, Thou Lord of might
Who to Thy tribes, on Sinai’s height
In ancient times didst give the law

In cloud, and majesty and awe
O come, Thou Rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan’s tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o’er the grave

O come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death’s dark shadows put to flight
O come, Thou Key of David, come
And open wide our heavenly home
Make safe the way that leads on high
And close the path to misery
O come, Thou Wisdom from on high
And order all things, far and nigh
To us the path of knowledge show
And cause us in her ways to go


I wish you all, my dear readers, a happy Christmas with the presence of Jesus made wonderfully real to you.  Thank you for being part of the DWELLING family as we learn more and more about the Word of God in Scripture and the Word made flesh in Christ.  Every blessing be yours, through the grace of our Lord, Father, Son, and Spirit. With love, Rebecca


Images courtesy of:
stable scene.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/0000the-birth-of-christ.jpg
Merritt.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/eve_merritt1.jpg
Falk.  http://meindertboersma.blogspot.com/2013/11/brieven-aan-mijn-ongelovige-kinderen_29.html
Jesus, lion, and lamb.    http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1076/899946019_e9c0ed54d5.jpg
Immanuel baby.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/immanuelgodwithus.jpg
olivewood nativity set.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/12/olivewood-nativity-set.jpg

3308.) 2 Chronicles 26

December 22, 2021

His pride proves to be his downfall.

His pride proves to be his downfall.

Uzziah Rules in Judah

1 All the people of Judah had crowned Amaziah’s sixteen-year-old son, Uzziah, as king in place of his father. 2After his father’s death, Uzziah rebuilt the town of Elath and restored it to Judah.

3 Uzziah was sixteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-two years. His mother was Jecoliah from Jerusalem. 4 He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his father, Amaziah, had done. 5 Uzziah sought God during the days of Zechariah, who taught him to fear God. And as long as the king sought guidance from the Lord, God gave him success.

I think I would have liked Uzziah. We read of him seeking God, building the nation’s strength, receiving tribute, winning in war, enjoying peace, and farming! Here is a man with the big picture in mind, and with a wide range of interests.

6 Uzziah declared war on the Philistines and broke down the walls of Gath, Jabneh, and Ashdod. Then he built new towns in the Ashdod area and in other parts of Philistia. 7 God helped him in his wars against the Philistines, his battles with the Arabs of Gur, and his wars with the Meunites. 8 The Meunites paid annual tribute to him, and his fame spread even to Egypt, for he had become very powerful.

9 Uzziah built fortified towers in Jerusalem at the Corner Gate, at the Valley Gate, and at the angle in the wall. 10 He also constructed forts in the wilderness and dug many water cisterns, because he kept great herds of livestock in the foothills of Judah and on the plains. He was also a man who loved the soil. He had many workers who cared for his farms and vineyards, both on the hillsides and in the fertile valleys.

One unique description of Uzziah is that he loved the soil. This shows that he had a mind and a heart for more than technology and fame; he also had an interest in practical matters and things that benefited the majority of his people.

11 Uzziah had an army of well-trained warriors, ready to march into battle, unit by unit. This army had been mustered and organized by Jeiel, the secretary of the army, and his assistant, Maaseiah. They were under the direction of Hananiah, one of the king’s officials. 12 These regiments of mighty warriors were commanded by 2,600 clan leaders. 13 The army consisted of 307,500 men, all elite troops. They were prepared to assist the king against any enemy.

14 Uzziah provided the entire army with shields, spears, helmets, coats of mail, bows, and sling stones. 15 And he built structures on the walls of Jerusalem, designed by experts to protect those who shot arrows and hurled large stones from the towers and the corners of the wall. His fame spread far and wide, for the Lord gave him marvelous help, and he became very powerful.

There is some debate and even controversy as to if these were defensive or offensive inventions. If it does describe the invention of catapults, it is a remarkable thing that Uzziah and his men invented such things more than two hundred years before archaeological evidence suggests.

–David Guzik

Uzziah’s Sin and Punishment

16 But when he had become powerful, he also became proud, which led to his downfall.

“The history of men affords persistent witness to the subtle perils which are created by prosperity. More men are blasted by it than by adversity…. Prosperity always puts the soul in danger of pride, of the heart lifted up; and pride ever goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

He sinned against the Lord his God by entering the sanctuary of the Lord’s Temple and personally burning incense on the incense altar.

Prophet — Priest — King

Uzziah violated what had become a general principle in God’s dealing with Israel: that no king should also be a priest, and that the offices of prophet, priest, and king should not be combined in one man – until the Messiah, who fulfilled all three offices.

17 Azariah the high priest went in after him with eighty other priests of the Lord, all brave men. 18They confronted King Uzziah and said, “It is not for you, Uzziah, to burn incense to the Lord. That is the work of the priests alone, the descendants of Aaron who are set apart for this work. Get out of the sanctuary, for you have sinned. The Lord God will not honor you for this!”

19 Uzziah, who was holding an incense burner, became furious. But as he was standing there raging at the priests before the incense altar in the Lord’s Temple, leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead. 20 When Azariah the high priest and all the other priests saw the leprosy, they rushed him out. And the king himself was eager to get out because the Lord had struck him. 21 So King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in isolation in a separate house, for he was excluded from the Temple of the Lord.

His son Jotham was put in charge of the royal palace, and he governed the people of the land.

“It was a fearful stroke from God. Death was the actual penalty enjoined by the law for his crime (Numbers 18:7), and leprosy was really that – a living death, prolonged and intensified.”

–Christopher Knapp

22 The rest of the events of Uzziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded by the prophet Isaiah son of Amoz.

“In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord . . . “

This connection between Isaiah and Uzziah is noted in Isaiah 6:1, when the death of the king contributed to the call of the prophet:  In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne.

It is important to consider the reign of Uzziah in totality:

  • He began his reign at only 16 years of age.
  • He reigned for 52 years.
  • Overall, he was a good and strong king who led Israel to many military victories and who was an energetic builder and planner.
  • Despite all this, Uzziah had a tragic end.

Therefore, when Isaiah wrote that he was called in the year King Uzziah died, he said a lot. It is to say, “In the year a great and wise king died.” But it is also to say, “In the year a great and wise king who had a tragic end died.” Isaiah had great reason to be discouraged and disillusioned at the death of King Uzziah, because a great king had passed away, and because his life ended tragically. Yet despite it all, he saw the enthroned Lord God who was greater than any earthly king.

–David Guzik

23 When Uzziah died, he was buried with his ancestors; his grave was in a nearby burial field belonging to the kings, for the people said, “He had leprosy.” And his son Jotham became the next king.


In a Russian Orthodox monastery located on the Mount of Olives, an inscription was discovered in 1931 bearing the name of King Uzziah. The inscription reads: “To this place, the remains of Uzziah, King of Judah, were placed. Do not disturb.”

This is a valuable non-biblical reference to the existence of a king of David’s line. The plaque is now in the Israel Museum, Jerusalem Collection.



HERE is a song about another king who died in Jerusalem, but with such a powerful story! “Hope has a name (Emmanuel)”  by Kristian Stanfill.


New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Uzziah struck with leprosy.   https://obscurecharacters.files.wordpress.com/2015/03/uzziah-leper.jpg
Proverbs 16:18.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/proverbs16-181.png
“I saw the Lord.”  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/07/isaiah-6.jpg

3307.) 2 Chronicles 25

December 21, 2021

“Half-Hearted Cookies” are one thing! Half-hearted obedience to God is quite another.

2 Chronicles 25   (NLT)

Amaziah Rules in Judah

Amaziah was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother was Jehoaddin from Jerusalem. 2Amaziah did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, but not wholeheartedly.

3 When Amaziah was well established as king, he executed the officials who had assassinated his father. 4 However, he did not kill the children of the assassins, for he obeyed the command of the Lord as written by Moses in the Book of the Law: “Parents must not be put to death for the sins of their children, nor children for the sins of their parents. Those deserving to die must be put to death for their own crimes.”


He obeys the law of Moses. So far, so good.

5 Then Amaziah organized the army, assigning generals and captains for all Judah and Benjamin. He took a census and found that he had an army of 300,000 select troops, twenty years old and older, all trained in the use of spear and shield. 6 He also paid about 7,500 pounds of silver to hire 100,000 experienced fighting men from Israel.

7 But a man of God came to him and said, “Your Majesty, do not hire troops from Israel, for the Lord is not with Israel. He will not help those people of Ephraim! 8 If you let them go with your troops into battle, you will be defeated by the enemy no matter how well you fight. God will overthrow you, for he has the power to help you or to trip you up.”

9 Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about all that silver I paid to hire the army of Israel?”

The man of God replied, “The Lord is able to give you much more than this!” 10 So Amaziah discharged the hired troops and sent them back to Ephraim.

It is unsettling that he hires mercenaries and that he thinks first of the money he spent rather than faithfulness of God. But he obeys the prophet, even at a loss of profit! Good for him.

This made them very angry with Judah, and they returned home in a great rage.

11 Then Amaziah summoned his courage and led his army to the Valley of Salt, where they killed 10,000 Edomite troops from Seir. 12 They captured another 10,000 and took them to the top of a cliff and threw them off, dashing them to pieces on the rocks below.

13 Meanwhile, the hired troops that Amaziah had sent home raided several of the towns of Judah between Samaria and Beth-horon. They killed 3,000 people and carried off great quantities of plunder.

14 When King Amaziah returned from slaughtering the Edomites, he brought with him idols taken from the people of Seir. He set them up as his own gods, bowed down in front of them, and offered sacrifices to them!

What?! An ungrateful, even irrational response!

15 This made the Lord very angry, and he sent a prophet to ask, “Why do you turn to gods who could not even save their own people from you?”

16 But the king interrupted him and said, “Since when have I made you the king’s counselor? Be quiet now before I have you killed!”

This further ungrateful response is a direct rejection of God.

So the prophet stopped with this warning: “I know that God has determined to destroy you because you have done this and have refused to accept my counsel.”

17 After consulting with his advisers, King Amaziah of Judah sent this challenge to Israel’s king Jehoash, the son of Jehoahaz and grandson of Jehu: “Come and meet me in battle!”

He doesn’t like this counsel, so he goes elsewhere to get the advice he wants / to confirm his own intentions.  (Where have we seen this before in 2 Chronicles?  –or in my own heart?)

18 But King Jehoash of Israel replied to King Amaziah of Judah with this story: “Out in the Lebanon mountains, a thistle sent a message to a mighty cedar tree: ‘Give your daughter in marriage to my son.’ But just then a wild animal of Lebanon came by and stepped on the thistle, crushing it!

19 “You are saying, ‘I have defeated Edom,’ and you are very proud of it. But my advice is to stay at home. Why stir up trouble that will only bring disaster on you and the people of Judah?”

20 But Amaziah refused to listen, for God was determined to destroy him for turning to the gods of Edom. 21 So King Jehoash of Israel mobilized his army against King Amaziah of Judah. The two armies drew up their battle lines at Beth-shemesh in Judah.

Now let’s guess what will happen. How about humiliating defeat and loss of national wealth?

22 Judah was routed by the army of Israel, and its army scattered and fled for home. 23 King Jehoash of Israel captured Judah’s king, Amaziah son of Joash and grandson of Ahaziah, at Beth-shemesh. Then he brought him to Jerusalem, where he demolished 600 feet of Jerusalem’s wall, from the Ephraim Gate to the Corner Gate. 24 He carried off all the gold and silver and all the articles from the Temple of God that had been in the care of Obed-edom. He also seized the treasures of the royal palace, along with hostages, and then returned to Samaria.

25 King Amaziah of Judah lived on for fifteen years after the death of King Jehoash of Israel. 26 The rest of the events in Amaziah’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Book of the Kings of Judah and Israel.

I must confess:  I have always thought it was unfortunate that these ancient books were lost. However, now that we are deep into 2 Chronicles, I am thinking it is a good thing. How depressing to read even more of these records of half-heartedness, unfaithfulness, idolatry, revenge, disobedience, assassination, destruction, stupidity . . .

27 After Amaziah turned away from the Lord, there was a conspiracy against his life in Jerusalem, and he fled to Lachish. But his enemies sent assassins after him, and they killed him there. 28 They brought his body back on a horse, and he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David.



It is a short distance from Amaziah’s half-hearted devotion to God —  to my own.  How grateful I am that I can find God’s grace and forgiveness “At the Cross.”  HERE.


New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
cookies.    http://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/0159/1210/products/half_hearted_cookies_lg_1024x1024.jpg?v=1343686898
Moses and the law.    http://www.clipartkid.com/images/837/clipart-moses-with-the-ten-commandments-2-YKygDg-clipart.jpg
money flying away.    https://gagadget.com/en/33877-htc-has-installed-another-financial-anti-record/#photo1
cat.    http://ebedadonai.blogspot.com/2009/04/james-12225-hearing-and-doing-word.html
I did it my way.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/2b0ce-ididitmyway-proverbs16verse25.jpg
It won’t work.    http://lucyinnovation.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/failure.gif
sad face.    http://inlandpolitics.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Sad-Emoticon.jpg

3306.) 2 Chronicles 24

December 20, 2021

“The Murder of Zechariah” by William Brassey Hole (1846-1917)

2 Chronicles 24   (NLT)

Joash Repairs the Temple (Joash’s Reform)

Joash was seven years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem forty years. His mother was Zibiah from Beersheba. 2 Joash did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight throughout the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest.  3Jehoiada chose two wives for Joash, and he had sons and daughters.

4 At one point Joash decided to repair and restore the Temple of the Lord.

This indicated the godly concern that Joash had regarding the condition of the temple. He knew that a prosperous and secure kingdom mattered little if the things of God were neglected or despised. He also knew that the condition of the temple was a valid measurement of the heart and passion of the people of God for the things of God. The temple was not God; but neglect and despising of the temple reflected neglect and despising of God.

–David Guzik

5 He summoned the priests and Levites and gave them these instructions: “Go to all the towns of Judah and collect the required annual offerings, so that we can repair the Temple of your God. Do not delay!” But the Levites did not act immediately. (Note: the reason for their delay is unclear.)

6 So the king called for Jehoiada the high priest and asked him, “Why haven’t you demanded that the Levites go out and collect the Temple taxes from the towns of Judah and from Jerusalem? Moses, the servant of the Lord, levied this tax on the community of Israel in order to maintain the Tabernacle of the Covenant.”

7 Over the years the followers of wicked Athaliah had broken into the Temple of God, and they had used all the dedicated things from the Temple of the Lord to worship the images of Baal.

This explains why there was a need to gather money. These were not normal wear and tear repairs;  things had been defiled.

8 So now the king ordered a chest to be made and set outside the gate leading to the Temple of the Lord.


9 Then a proclamation was sent throughout Judah and Jerusalem, telling the people to bring to the Lord the tax that Moses, the servant of God, had required of the Israelites in the wilderness. 10 This pleased all the leaders and the people, and they gladly brought their money and filled the chest with it.

2 Corinthians 9:6-8   (NIV)

Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.  Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.  And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.

11 Whenever the chest became full, the Levites would carry it to the king’s officials. Then the court secretary and an officer of the high priest would come and empty the chest and take it back to the Temple again. This went on day after day, and a large amount of money was collected. 12 The king and Jehoiada gave the money to the construction supervisors, who hired masons and carpenters to restore the Temple of the Lord. They also hired metalworkers, who made articles of iron and bronze for the Lord’s Temple.

The reform of Joash was, in fact, one of the significant landmarks in the development of the upkeep of the Temple. This is not principally because of the apparent extent of the repairs, which was considerable. It can be imagined how much routine repair would have been necessary on a building as large, opulent—and by now as old!—as Solomon’s Temple. The importance of the change lies in the shifting of financial responsibility for the upkeep from king to people; the people recognized that the way of blessing was that of obedience.

–J. G. McConville

13 The men in charge of the renovation worked hard and made steady progress. They restored the Temple of God according to its original design and strengthened it. 14 When all the repairs were finished, they brought the remaining money to the king and Jehoiada. It was used to make various articles for the Temple of the Lord—articles for worship services and for burnt offerings, including ladles and other articles made of gold and silver. And the burnt offerings were sacrificed continually in the Temple of the Lord during the lifetime of Jehoiada the priest.

The people were so generous, and the administration was so wise and honest, that there was an excess of money for the restoration project, money which was given to supply new articles for the house of the LORD. This was wonderful evidence of both God’s blessing and man’s generosity and wise stewardship.

15 Jehoiada lived to a very old age, finally dying at 130. 16 He was buried among the kings in the City of David, because he had done so much good in Judah for God and his Temple.

“See the influence of one man. One man can sway a state. One man can check sin. One man can be the head of a host who shall serve God, and honor his name.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon

Jehoiada’s Reforms Reversed (Joash’s Apostasy)

17 But after Jehoiada’s death, the leaders of Judah came and bowed before King Joash and persuaded him to listen to their advice. 18 They decided to abandon the Temple of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, and they worshiped Asherah poles and idols instead! Because of this sin, divine anger fell on Judah and Jerusalem.

Such a betrayal!  Such a fatal weakness of character! Such weak leadership!

19Yet the Lord sent prophets to bring them back to him. The prophets warned them, but still the people would not listen.

20 Then the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest. He stood before the people and said, “This is what God says: Why do you disobey the Lord’s commands and keep yourselves from prospering? You have abandoned the Lord, and now he has abandoned you!”



by Mary Engelbreit

by Mary Engelbreit

“You have abandoned the Lord”; other versions say forsaken, or deserted. The opposite is James 4:8, which says, “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” That verse and this song, “Jesus, Draw Me Close,”  HERE,  serve to counter the disgraceful attitude shown in Joash above.


21 Then the leaders plotted to kill Zechariah, and King Joash ordered that they stone him to death in the courtyard of the Lord’s Temple. 22 That was how King Joash repaid Jehoiada for his loyalty—by killing his son. Zechariah’s last words as he died were, “May the Lord see what they are doing and avenge my death!”

Joash did not seek God. So with his last breath, Zechariah asks God to seek Joash.

Hebrews 10:30-31   (NKJV)

For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.”  It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

The End of Joash’s Reign

23 In the spring of the year the Aramean army marched against Joash. They invaded Judah and Jerusalem and killed all the leaders of the nation. Then they sent all the plunder back to their king in Damascus. 24Although the Arameans attacked with only a small army, the Lord helped them conquer the much larger army of Judah. The people of Judah had abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, so judgment was carried out against Joash.

25 The Arameans withdrew, leaving Joash severely wounded. But his own officials plotted to kill him for murdering the son of Jehoiada the priest. They assassinated him as he lay in bed. Then he was buried in the City of David, but not in the royal cemetery. 26 The assassins were Jozacar, the son of an Ammonite woman named Shimeath, and Jehozabad, the son of a Moabite woman named Shomer.

27 The account of the sons of Joash, the prophecies about him, and the record of his restoration of the Temple of God are written in The Commentary on the Book of the Kings. His son Amaziah became the next king.

“The study of the story of Joash offers a striking illustration of how a weak man is easily influenced. It emphasizes the need of strong individual character, which can only be created by direct dealing with God.”

–G. Campbell Morgan

Have you ever read the short story by the Southern American writer Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964) called “A Good Man Is Hard to Find”? In the closing scene, an escaped convict, called “The Misfit,” kills the grandmother, a woman who has been more concerned about looking like a good Christian than being one. As he looks at her dead body, The Misfit remarks:

“She would of been a good woman, if it had been somebody there to shoot her every minute of her life.”

I think of this line in relation to Joash. He, like the grandmother, is a phony, and is good only under direction and pretense. Once Jehoiada dies, Joash has no godly character of his own to guide him.  Unfortunately, Joash does not get the opportunity for a deathbed revelation of truth, the way O’Connor’s grandmother does.

I do recommend the story to you — read it  HERE  !  O’Connor was a devout Christian whose works center on God’s mysterious grace.


New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Hole.    https://biblepicturestories.wordpress.com/2017/08/
a chest outside the gate.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/11/2chron24-chest.jpg
God loveth a cheerful giver.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/236x/d9/08/2d/d9082d4b259c6bdaf4b9dd7941f81175.jpg
Solomon’s Temple.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/49/c6/27/49c6279f1d2c7c1aaadc11de64e2cccd.jpg
Engelbreit.   http://vignette3.wikia.nocookie.net/specialagentoso/images/0/01/Draw_near_to_god_by_mary_engelbreit.png/revision/latest?cb=20140609100840
Flannery O’Connor.    http://static.guim.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures/2009/4/22/1240415111859/Flannery-OConnor-001.jpg