2221.) 2 Kings 23

November 6, 2017

King Josiah finds he has major cleaning to do, ridding the kingdom of all signs of idolatry.

2 Kings 23   (NIV)

Josiah Renews the Covenant

1 Then the king called together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 2 He went up to the temple of the LORD with the people of Judah, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the priests and the prophets—all the people from the least to the greatest. He read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant, which had been found in the temple of the LORD. 3 The king stood by the pillar and renewed the covenant in the presence of the LORD—to follow the LORD and keep his commands, statutes and decrees with all his heart and all his soul, thus confirming the words of the covenant written in this book.

Josiah knew judgment was coming but still he wanted to do the right thing. So he himself read the law to his subjects. (This is one of the videos I want to see when I get to Heaven — “Josiah Reading the Torah to the People”!)

Then all the people pledged themselves to the covenant.

Nearly all the rest of this chapter details what Josiah did to eliminate idolatry in the land. As you read, notice the extent of the worship of false gods. Notice the many gods and goddesses, priests, places, buildings, support activities — here, there, everywhere — idol worship was deeply ingrained in the kingdom. It takes significant effort on Josiah’s part to root out all the many tentacles of idolatry.

4 The king ordered Hilkiah the high priest, the priests next in rank and the doorkeepers to remove from the temple of the LORD all the articles made for Baal and Asherah and all the starry hosts. He burned them outside Jerusalem in the fields of the Kidron Valley and took the ashes to Bethel. 5 He did away with the idolatrous priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts. 6 He took the Asherah pole from the temple of the LORD to the Kidron Valley outside Jerusalem and burned it there. He ground it to powder and scattered the dust over the graves of the common people.

Jewish graves in Atlanta, Georgia.

This was not meant to desecrate the graves. Rather, the ashes were desecrated by being flung on dead things. In just a few verses, we will read of bones being burned on altars to defile the altars. The dead bodies/bones make whatever they touch unclean.

7 He also tore down the quarters of the male shrine prostitutes that were in the temple of the LORD, the quarters where women did weaving for Asherah.

8 Josiah brought all the priests from the towns of Judah and desecrated the high places, from Geba to Beersheba, where the priests had burned incense. He broke down the gateway at the entrance of the Gate of Joshua, the city governor, which was on the left of the city gate. 9 Although the priests of the high places did not serve at the altar of the LORD in Jerusalem, they ate unleavened bread with their fellow priests.

10 He desecrated Topheth, which was in the Valley of Ben Hinnom, so no one could use it to sacrifice their son or daughter in the fire to Molek. 11 He removed from the entrance to the temple of the LORD the horses that the kings of Judah had dedicated to the sun. They were in the court near the room of an official named Nathan-Melek. Josiah then burned the chariots dedicated to the sun.

12 He pulled down the altars the kings of Judah had erected on the roof near the upper room of Ahaz, and the altars Manasseh had built in the two courts of the temple of the LORD. He removed them from there, smashed them to pieces and threw the rubble into the Kidron Valley. 13 The king also desecrated the high places that were east of Jerusalem on the south of the Hill of Corruption—the ones Solomon king of Israel had built for Ashtoreth the vile goddess of the Sidonians, for Chemosh the vile god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the people of Ammon. 14 Josiah smashed the sacred stones and cut down the Asherah poles and covered the sites with human bones.

After getting rid of some of King Solomon’s contributions to idolatry, Josiah even takes his reforms up to Bethel in the former Northern Kingdom.

15 Even the altar at Bethel, the high place made by Jeroboam son of Nebat, who had caused Israel to sin—even that altar and high place he demolished. He burned the high place and ground it to powder, and burned the Asherah pole also.

16 Then Josiah looked around, and when he saw the tombs that were there on the hillside, he had the bones removed from them and burned on the altar to defile it, in accordance with the word of the LORD proclaimed by the man of God who foretold these things.

17 The king asked, “What is that tombstone I see?”

The people of the city said, “It marks the tomb of the man of God who came from Judah and pronounced against the altar of Bethel the very things you have done to it.”

18 “Leave it alone,” he said. “Don’t let anyone disturb his bones.” So they spared his bones and those of the prophet who had come from Samaria.

This is the remarkable fulfillment of a prophecy made hundreds of years earlier. The words of this anonymous prophet are recorded in 1 Kings 13:1-2: Behold, a child, Josiah by name, shall be born to the house of David; and on you he shall sacrifice the priests of the high places who burn incense on you. Josiah was careful to honor the gravestone of this anonymous prophet.

19 Just as he had done at Bethel, Josiah removed all the shrines at the high places that the kings of Israel had built in the towns of Samaria and that had aroused the LORD’s anger. 20 Josiah slaughtered all the priests of those high places on the altars and burned human bones on them. Then he went back to Jerusalem.

21 The king gave this order to all the people: “Celebrate the Passover to the LORD your God, as it is written in this Book of the Covenant.” 22 Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed. 23 But in the eighteenth year of King Josiah, this Passover was celebrated to the LORD in Jerusalem.

A Passover trivia tidbit for you:

For years Coca Cola has been made with high fructose corn syrup, a low cost sugar substitute made with (surprise!) corn. Corn is a leavening agent which means it must be cut out of the Jewish diet for Passover. So, to serve the Jewish population in large cities in the United States, the Coca Cola company opens a special production line, supervised by a rabbi, to make a kosher Coke alternative with real sugar instead of corn syrup. Passover Coke (bright yellow cap with Hebrew writing) is hard to find but flies off the shelf wherever it’s sold, since many people remember the flavor as the “old” (they would say tastier) Coke.

24 Furthermore, Josiah got rid of the mediums and spiritists, the household gods, the idols and all the other detestable things seen in Judah and Jerusalem. This he did to fulfill the requirements of the law written in the book that Hilkiah the priest had discovered in the temple of the LORD. 25 Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the LORD as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.

Sola scriptura regards the Bible as the only final authority in matters of faith and practice. To quote Martin Luther — “The true rule is this: God’s Word shall establish articles of faith, and no one else, not even an angel, can do so.”

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Music:

HERE  is the incomparable Phil Keaggy and “True Believers,” to encourage us to “stand on every word You say.” Josiah was faithful, but, as this chapter continues, guess what will happen . . .

Phil is a seven-time recipient of the GMA Dove Award for Instrumental Album of the Year, and was twice nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Gospel Album. He has frequently been listed as one of the world’s top-3 “fingerstyle” as well as “fingerpicking” guitarists by Guitar Player Magazine readers’ polls.

Just don’t know where, where to begin
When earthly kings surrender to this world of sin.
To walk the walk, talk the talk, truth is
Heaven on earth is one stairway
That can’t be bought.
The price is paid, we believe that our God reigns,

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

You’ve had enough, all you can take
When your river of tears
Runs into an ocean of heartbreak.
He’ll be your moon when your sun goes down,
Fire for you if ice is all that’s on your ground.
When your music has died,
And silence is the sound,

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

So if you need to call on a friend,
He’s there for you right until the very end,
His love is alive forever and amen.

The true believers stand on every word You say,
The true believers made alive in Christ today,
This is how we survive and where we mean to stay.
The true believers.

_________________________

26 Nevertheless, the LORD did not turn away from the heat of his fierce anger, which burned against Judah because of all that Manasseh had done to arouse his anger. 27 So the LORD said, “I will remove Judah also from my presence as I removed Israel, and I will reject Jerusalem, the city I chose, and this temple, about which I said, ‘My Name shall be there.’”

28 As for the other events of Josiah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

29 While Josiah was king, Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt went up to the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria.

Assyria was in decline and Babylonia was ascending. Assyria turned to Egypt for help against the Babylonians. Pharaoh Necho of Egypt was marching up to Assyria, through Judah. Josiah tried to stop him . . .

King Josiah marched out to meet him in battle, but Necho faced him and killed him at Megiddo.

“Josiah killed by the Egyptians” by Frank E. Wright

30 Josiah’s servants brought his body in a chariot from Megiddo to Jerusalem and buried him in his own tomb. And the people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and anointed him and made him king in place of his father.

Jehoahaz King of Judah

31 Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother’s name was Hamutal daughter of Jeremiah; she was from Libnah. 32 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his predecessors had done. 33 Pharaoh Necho put him in chains at Riblah in the land of Hamath so that he might not reign in Jerusalem, and he imposed on Judah a levy of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold.

Pharaoh Necho in this chapter is known in history as Necho II.  This bronze statue of him is in the Brooklyn Museum.

So now Judah is effectively a tribute state to Egypt.

34 Pharaoh Necho made Eliakim son of Josiah king in place of his father Josiah and changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim. But he took Jehoahaz and carried him off to Egypt, and there he died. 35 Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh Necho the silver and gold he demanded. In order to do so, he taxed the land and exacted the silver and gold from the people of the land according to their assessments.

Jehoiakim King of Judah

36 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eleven years. His mother’s name was Zebidah daughter of Pedaiah; she was from Rumah. 37 And he did evil in the eyes of the LORD, just as his predecessors had done.

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New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
cleaning supplies.    http://nowsourcing.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2007/12/spring-cleaning.jpg
tentacles.    http://cdn.isciencetimes.com/data/images/full/2014/05/15/6504-octopus.jpg
Jewish graves.    http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/00/1a/ec/45/jewish-graves.jpg
Josiah destroying the altars.   https://freemethodistpreacher.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/josiah_.jpg
kosher Coke.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/03/koshercoke.jpg
sola scriptura.   https://redeeminggod.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Sola-Scriptura.jpg
Wright.     http://www.gci.org/files/images/b7/_0317152610_035.jpg
Necho, Pharaoh of Egypt.    http://www.touregypt.net/images/touregypt/necho1.jpg
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2220.) 2 Kings 22

November 3, 2017

Torah scroll: the book of the Law. What was presented to Josiah may have been the entire Pentateuch (Genesis – Deuteronomy).

2 Kings 22   (NIV)

The Book of the Law Found

Let’s set the stage.

We are at the very end of the history of the kingdom of Judah. Her most wicked king, a man named Manasseh, had reigned for 55 years. During his time on the throne, he took the nation into the very depths of depravity. It seems he coldly calculated how to break each of God’s commands. He filled Jerusalem and the temple with pagan idols and altars and he filled the city with innocent blood. The king and the people were so utterly corrupt that God said they had far exceeded the perversions of the Canaanites who lived there before them, and who had been judged for their wickedness. The scale of justice had been irreparably tipped to judgment and it would only be a matter of time till the Babylonians came and destroyed the nation, her capital, the temple, and carry away the people into exile.

After Manasseh died, his son Amon reigned for a short time, being assassinated in a royal coup. Then his son Josiah became King. He was only 8 when his reign began but from the beginning, he had a heart to serve God. Once his grip on the throne became secure, he moved to undo the perversions of his grandfather and father. In the 18th year of his reign, he gave orders that the temple was to be repaired. Years of abuse and neglect had resulted in much damage and Josiah was diligent to make sure the house of God was restored. So he sent a delegation of royal officials to the high priest with orders for workers to begin repairs.

1 Josiah was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem thirty-one years. His mother’s name was Jedidah daughter of Adaiah; she was from Bozkath. 2 He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.

3 In the eighteenth year of his reign, King Josiah sent the secretary, Shaphan son of Azaliah, the son of Meshullam, to the temple of the LORD. He said: 4 “Go up to Hilkiah the high priest

According to Jeremiah 1:1-2, the Prophet Jeremiah was the son of this priest Hilkiah.  Jeremiah began his ministry during the reign of King Josiah.

and have him get ready the money that has been brought into the temple of the LORD, which the doorkeepers have collected from the people. 5 Have them entrust it to the men appointed to supervise the work on the temple. And have these men pay the workers who repair the temple of the LORD— 6 the carpenters, the builders and the masons. Also have them purchase timber and dressed stone to repair the temple. 7 But they need not account for the money entrusted to them, because they are honest in their dealings.”

Josiah orders both necessary funding and necessary management for the project.

Shaphan was the head of the delegation of officials who went to the temple with Josiah’s order. They stayed for a short time to make sure the work had begun so they could return with a full report to the king. But it wasn’t long after the repairs had started that Hilkiah, the high priest, came to Shaphan with an urgent message. The Book of the Law  had been discovered, either by one of the priests or one of the workmen. He turned it over to Shaphan, who immediately opened the scroll and began to read. He returned to Josiah with news that the repairs were well underway, and that the long lost Book of the Law had been found. Then he read it to the king.

8 Hilkiah the high priest said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the temple of the LORD.” He gave it to Shaphan, who read it. 9 Then Shaphan the secretary went to the king and reported to him: “Your officials have paid out the money that was in the temple of the LORD and have entrusted it to the workers and supervisors at the temple.” 10 Then Shaphan the secretary informed the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it in the presence of the king.

Hearing the Word of God

We should fear and love God so that we do not despise preaching and His Word, but hold it sacred and gladly hear and learn it.
–Martin Luther, from The Small Catechism

Luke 11:27-28 (English Standard Version)

As he said these things, a woman in the crowd raised her voice and said to him, “Blessed is the womb that bore you, and the breasts at which you nursed!” But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”

When you read God’s Word, you must constantly be saying to yourself, “It is talking to me, and about me.”
–Soren Kierkgaard

I prayed for faith and thought that some day it would come down and strike me like lightning. But faith didn’t seem to come. One day I read in Romans that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” I had up to this time, closed my Bible and prayed for faith. Now I opened my Bible and began to study and faith has been growing ever since.
–D.L. Moody

Colossians 3:16 (Contemporary English Version)

Let the message about Christ completely fill your lives, while you use all your wisdom to teach and instruct each other. With thankful hearts, sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God.

God whispers to us in our health and prosperity, but, being hard of hearing, we fail to hear God’s voice in both. It’s then that God turns up the amplifier by means of suffering. Then his voice booms.
–C. S. Lewis

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is “Word of God, Speak”  by MercyMe.

_________________________

What Shaphan had was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, the books Moses had written. They recorded the origin of Israel and their early history. They told of God’s great power in delivering them from Egypt and bringing them in to the land of promise. But they also spoke of God’s law. They declared great blessings on obedience and terrible judgment on rebellion. As Josiah listened to Shaphan read the horrific curses on disobedience, his heart had to begin to lurch with fear. All he had to do was look around Jerusalem and Judah to see the evidences of nearly 75 years of the worst evil imaginable. There was idolatry everywhere; pagan altars filled the temple grounds and streets of the city, and the accursed high places his great grandfather Hezekiah had dismantled had been rebuilt by Manasseh. Everywhere he looked was evil.

11 When the king heard the words of the Book of the Law, he tore his robes.

People tore their clothes only under cases of extreme grief, as when they lost a close loved one. Because the king was the person of highest rank, he was not supposed to tear his clothes unless it was a case of ultra extreme grief. When Josiah rent his royal robes, it was a sign of profound emotion. He knew Judah was in a dangerous predicament. He knew the blasphemies of the previous kings and the people were more than enough to result in the complete annihilation of the nation. So he quickly sent another delegation to find out if the judgment proclaimed in the Law was soon in coming and if there was any way to divert it before it was too late

John 16:8-11 (Amplified Bible)

And when He [the Holy Spirit] comes, He will convict and convince the world and bring demonstration to it about sin and about righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God) and about judgment:

About sin, because they do not believe in Me [trust in, rely on, and adhere to Me];

About righteousness (uprightness of heart and right standing with God), because I go to My Father, and you will see Me no longer;

About judgment, because the ruler (evil genius, prince) of this world [Satan] is judged and condemned and sentence already is passed upon him.

12 He gave these orders to Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam son of Shaphan, Akbor son of Micaiah, Shaphan the secretary and Asaiah the king’s attendant: 13 “Go and inquire of the LORD for me and for the people and for all Judah about what is written in this book that has been found. Great is the LORD’s anger that burns against us because those who have gone before us have not obeyed the words of this book; they have not acted in accordance with all that is written there concerning us.”

Huldah was a godly woman known to speak for God. The king’s delegation went to her with Josiah’s request, but her message was not very encouraging. The scales of justice had been tipped to judgment;  it was too late to turn aside God’s wrath. All that had been foretold in the Book of the Law would come to pass and Judah’s rebellion would be punished. The only word of comfort was that because Josiah had shown such remarkable repentance and sorrow before God for the sins of his fathers and people, the judgment would not come till after he was gone.

14 Hilkiah the priest, Ahikam, Akbor, Shaphan and Asaiah went to speak to the prophet Huldah, who was the wife of Shallum son of Tikvah, the son of Harhas, keeper of the wardrobe. She lived in Jerusalem, in the New Quarter.

“Huldah: Treasure the Word” by Elspeth Young

15 She said to them, “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: Tell the man who sent you to me, 16 ‘This is what the LORD says: I am going to bring disaster on this place and its people, according to everything written in the book the king of Judah has read. 17 Because they have forsaken me and burned incense to other gods and aroused my anger by all the idols their hands have made, my anger will burn against this place and will not be quenched.’ 18 Tell the king of Judah, who sent you to inquire of the LORD, ‘This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says concerning the words you heard: 19 Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I have spoken against this place and its people—that they would become a curse and be laid waste—and because you tore your robes and wept in my presence, I also have heard you, declares the LORD. 20 Therefore I will gather you to your ancestors, and you will be buried in peace. Your eyes will not see all the disaster I am going to bring on this place.’”

For Josiah — mercy precedes judgment.

So they took her answer back to the king.

Even though Huldah said that judgment would come, Josiah determined to do what was right in his own day. Chapter 23 will tell us of the marvelous and sweeping reforms he made to Jerusalem, the temple, the priesthood, and the entire nation.

But what is striking about this passage is the revelation that the Book of the Law had been lost, of all places, in the house of the Lord! Their Bible, the books of Moses, the record of God’s covenant with His people, His commandments, His counsel, the record of His love, power, and truth, had been missing for generations. Yet the priests still went about their religious duties, the offerings and sacrifices were still made, the rituals were dutifully performed, the horns were blown, the lamps were lit—the show went on. But no one knew why or what for!

One of the most important roles of the ministry of the priest was the task of teaching. Not only were they to officiate at the temple, they were also supposed to instruct the people out of the law. It was part of their solemn charge to not only represent the people to God, but to represent God to the people. And the primary way to do that was to read from and instruct them in the law.

They were to tell the people of their godly heritage. They were to remind them of God’s love and power demonstrated in their history. They were to carefully show them the way of life through obedience to the covenant He made with them at Sinai. They had the wonderful privilege of bringing people into a relationship with God by showing them God’s revelation of Himself. But they had neglected this most vital part of their ministry. They neglected the teaching of the Word of God and turned to something else, something easier—temple service.

And eventually, the Bible was lost in the house of God.

–all commentary in red from Calvary Chapel notes, Oxnard, CA

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New International Version, ©2010 (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Torah scroll.    http://www.torahscroll.com/myimages/UsedFullSizeWhite3.jpg
hearing.     http://www.freedomscope.com/Images/hearing_impaired.jpg
Josiah tearing his clothes.   https://assetsnffrgf-a.akamaihd.net/assets/m/402014288/univ/art/402014288_univ_lsr_xl.jpg
Young.    http://alyoung.com/Art_Gallery/Elspeth_Young/Women_in_Scripture/Huldah.jpg

2219.) Psalm 119:49-64

November 2, 2017

Psalm 119:49-64   (NIV)

Just for a bit of variety — we will be looking at sections of Psalm 119 while we are also reading through Jeremiah.

“Surely it is significant that this intricate, finely crafted, single-minded love poem—the longest in the Bible—is not about marriage or children or food or drink or mountains or sunsets or rivers or oceans, but about the Bible itself. . . . Psalm 119 is the explosion of praise made possible by an orthodox and evangelical doctrine of Scripture.” 
~Kevin DeYoung

The particular stanzas here follow very similar themes:

Zayin (verses 49-56) could be summarized,

“Remember me, Lord, as I remember you and your word”

 Heth (verses 57-64) could be summarized,

 “I am keeping my promise, Lord, please keep your promise.”

~Peter Wallace

ז Zayin

49 Remember your word to your servant,
    for you have given me hope.

50 My comfort in my suffering is this:
    Your promise preserves my life.

51 The arrogant mock me unmercifully,
    but I do not turn from your law.
52 I remember, Lord, your ancient laws,
    and I find comfort in them.
53 Indignation grips me because of the wicked,
    who have forsaken your law.
54 Your decrees are the theme of my song
    wherever I lodge.
55 In the night, Lord, I remember your name,
    that I may keep your law.

At night especially our sorrows press painfully upon the mind. The remembrance of the Lord’s “name” — i:e., His manifestation of Himself in acts as His people’s Deliverer–is at such seasons most consolatory. Of the time that others give to sleep, I gladly take a part to comfort myself with the remembrance of thy glorious name.

~commentary on Psalm 119 by Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown

56 This has been my practice:
    I obey your precepts.

ח Heth

57 You are my portion, Lord;
    I have promised to obey your words.
58 I have sought your face with all my heart;
    be gracious to me according to your promise.


59 I have considered my ways
    and have turned my steps to your statutes.

60 I will hasten and not delay
    to obey your commands.
61 Though the wicked bind me with ropes,
    I will not forget your law.
62 At midnight I rise to give you thanks
    for your righteous laws.
63 I am a friend to all who fear you,
    to all who follow your precepts.

The proverb says that “A man is known by the company he keeps.” We do well to choose friends who call us to live on the higher plane — more lovingly, more gracefully, more faithfully, more patiently, more joyfully. On the other hand, Jesus was known as “a friend of sinners.”But Jesus didn’t just hang out with drunks and loose women for the sake of a good party! Perhaps it is more accurate to say that sinners were drawn to Jesus, that Jesus gladly spent time with sinners who were open to his teaching, that Jesus forgave repentant sinners, and that Jesus embraced sinners who believed in him. Sinners like us can be known by the company we keep, especially if that company is our Savior, Jesus!

64 The earth is filled with your love, Lord;
    teach me your decrees.

_________________________

Music:

Verse 59  in three translations:

 I have considered my conduct,
and I promise to follow your instructions. (Good News)

I thought about my ways
and turned my feet toward your instruction. (CJB)

I thought very carefully about my life,
    and I decided to follow your rules.   (ERV)

They all are saying we should “direct our feet” and “turn” and “promise to follow” God’s Word. Here is Rich Mullins singing his “Step by Step.” I think it is a catchy number, so we could sing it all day long, thus directing our feet and turning our hearts to follow the Lord. Click  HERE  to listen and join in!

Sometimes the night was beautiful 
Sometimes the sky was so far away 
Sometimes it seemed to stoop so close 
You could touch it but your heart would break 
Sometimes the morning came too soon 
Sometimes the day could be so hot 
There was so much work left to do 
But so much You’d already done

Oh God, You are my God 
And I will ever praise You 
Oh God, You are my God 
And I will ever praise You 
I will seek You in the morning 
And I will learn to walk in Your ways 
And step by step You’ll lead me 
And I will follow You all of my days

Sometimes I think of Abraham 
How one star he saw had been lit for me 
He was a stranger in this land 
And I am that, no less than he 
And on this road to righteousness 
Sometimes the climb can be so steep 
I may falter in my steps 
But never beyond Your reach

And I will follow You all of my days 
And I will follow You all of my days 
And step by step You’ll lead me 
And I will follow You all of my days 
And I will follow You all of my days 
And I will follow You all of my days

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Images courtesy of:
I have thought about my life.    https://darlenecollazo.files.wordpress.com/2012/08/psalm-119-59.jpg
verse 50.    http://ourdailyblossom.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/101211-590×393.jpg
I thought on my ways.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2017/11/b8144-ps2b119-592bturned2bmy2bfeet.jpg

2218.) Jeremiah 20

November 1, 2017

Jer20 in mine heart

Jeremiah 20   (NLT)

Jeremiah and Pashhur

Now Pashhur son of Immer, the priest in charge of the Temple of the Lord, heard what Jeremiah was prophesying. So he arrested Jeremiah the prophet and had him whipped and put in stocks at the Benjamin Gate of the Lord’s Temple.

Jer20 stocks

The next day, when Pashhur finally released him, Jeremiah said, “Pashhur, the Lord has changed your name. From now on you are to be called ‘The Man Who Lives in Terror.’ For this is what the Lord says: ‘I will send terror upon you and all your friends, and you will watch as they are slaughtered by the swords of the enemy. I will hand the people of Judah over to the king of Babylon. He will take them captive to Babylon or run them through with the sword. And I will let your enemies plunder Jerusalem. All the famed treasures of the city—the precious jewels and gold and silver of your kings—will be carried off to Babylon. As for you, Pashhur, you and all your household will go as captives to Babylon. There you will die and be buried, you and all your friends to whom you prophesied that everything would be all right.’”

Jeremiah is not cowed in the least! As soon as he is out of the stocks, he says again, even more personally to the priest, exactly what got him in trouble in the first place!

Jeremiah’s Complaint

O Lord, you misled me,
    and I allowed myself to be misled.
You are stronger than I am,
    and you overpowered me.

My heart goes out to Jeremiah. He is strong on the outside, but questioning on the inside. Living in faith in difficult circumstances — God never says it will be easy. But in his questions and doubts, he goes to the Lord, and there is where he finds comfort and strength to continue. We are so fortunate to have all of Holy Scripture, as well as hymnals and devotionals and more spiritual teaching than we could ever listen to and more helpful books than we could ever read! “Come to Me when you are burdened,” Jesus says, “and I will give you rest” — rest for your souls. Do not let your questions fester in your soul; do as Jeremiah did and take them directly to God.

Now I am mocked every day;
    everyone laughs at me.
When I speak, the words burst out.
    “Violence and destruction!” I shout.
So these messages from the Lord
    have made me a household joke.

Jer20 burning fire
But if I say I’ll never mention the Lord
    or speak in his name,
his word burns in my heart like a fire.
    It’s like a fire in my bones!
I am worn out trying to hold it in!
    I can’t do it!

Now this is a strong prayer to pray for church leaders! “Lord, let your word burn like a fire in our pastor’s, youth leader’s, Sunday School teacher’s heart! Let it be that he or she cannot hold it in, but must preach and teach it!” Then add from verse 11 below, “And stand beside him or her like a great warrior, to defend your name and your servant!”

10 I have heard the many rumors about me.
    They call me “The Man Who Lives in Terror.”
They threaten, “If you say anything, we will report it.”
    Even my old friends are watching me,
    waiting for a fatal slip.
“He will trap himself,” they say,
    “and then we will get our revenge on him.”

Jer20 warrior

11 But the Lord stands beside me like a great warrior.
    Before him my persecutors will stumble.
    They cannot defeat me.
They will fail and be thoroughly humiliated.
    Their dishonor will never be forgotten.

12 O Lord of Heaven’s Armies,
you test those who are righteous,
    and you examine the deepest thoughts and secrets.
Let me see your vengeance against them,
    for I have committed my cause to you.
13 Sing to the Lord!
    Praise the Lord!
For though I was poor and needy,
    he rescued me from my oppressors.

_________________________

Music:

Are you already hearing Johnny Cash singing “Burning Ring of Fire”?  HERE  it is!

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14 Yet I curse the day I was born!
    May no one celebrate the day of my birth.
15 I curse the messenger who told my father,
    “Good news—you have a son!”
16 Let him be destroyed like the cities of old
    that the Lord overthrew without mercy.
Terrify him all day long with battle shouts,
17     because he did not kill me at birth.
Oh, that I had died in my mother’s womb,
    that her body had been my grave!
18 Why was I ever born?
    My entire life has been filled
    with trouble, sorrow, and shame.

Many of God’s witnesses, in Biblical times and beyond, have experienced these dark nights of the soul. Jonah (who also had God’s Word burning in his heart) understood:

Jonah 2 (NLT)

Then Jonah prayed to the Lord his God from inside the fish.  He said,

“I cried out to the Lord in my great trouble,
    and he answered me.
I called to you from the land of the dead,
    and Lord, you heard me!
You threw me into the ocean depths,
    and I sank down to the heart of the sea.
The mighty waters engulfed me;
    I was buried beneath your wild and stormy waves.
Then I said, ‘O Lord, you have driven me from your presence.
    Yet I will look once more toward your holy Temple.’

“I sank beneath the waves,
    and the waters closed over me.
    Seaweed wrapped itself around my head.
I sank down to the very roots of the mountains.
    I was imprisoned in the earth,
    whose gates lock shut forever.
But you, O Lord my God,
    snatched me from the jaws of death!
As my life was slipping away,
    I remembered the Lord.
And my earnest prayer went out to you
    in your holy Temple.
Those who worship false gods
    turn their backs on all God’s mercies.
But I will offer sacrifices to you with songs of praise,
    and I will fulfill all my vows.
    For my salvation comes from the Lord alone.”

_________________________

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:
in mine heart.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/jer20-in-mine-heart.jpg
in stocks.    http://www.bible-history.com/ibh/images/fullsized/in_the_stocks.jpg
like a burning fire.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2013/06/f30fa-jeremiah-20v-9.jpg
great warrior.    http://www.dailylifeverse.com/posts/images/2012/08/jeremiah-20-11.jpg?s=full
Dark night.   https://www.cordeo.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/DarkNight2.jpg

2217.) Jeremiah 19

October 31, 2017
"Jeremiah 19 The Broken Flask" by Sue Flanagan

“Jeremiah 19 The Broken Flask” by Sue Flanagan

Jeremiah 19   (NLT)

Jeremiah’s Shattered Jar

–from an ancient version of How to Win Friends and Influence People!

This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and buy a clay jar. Then ask some of the leaders of the people and of the priests to follow you. Go out through the Gate of Broken Pots to the garbage dump in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, and give them this message. Say to them, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you kings of Judah and citizens of Jerusalem! This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: I will bring a terrible disaster on this place, and the ears of those who hear about it will ring!

It is not hard to imagine how annoying such a message would become.

“‘For Israel has forsaken me and turned this valley into a place of wickedness. The people burn incense to foreign gods—idols never before acknowledged by this generation, by their ancestors, or by the kings of Judah. And they have filled this place with the blood of innocent children. They have built pagan shrines to Baal, and there they burn their sons as sacrifices to Baal. I have never commanded such a horrible deed; it never even crossed my mind to command such a thing! So beware, for the time is coming, says the Lord, when this garbage dump will no longer be called Topheth or the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter.

We know how much people appreciate being told they are wrong.

“‘For I will upset the careful plans of Judah and Jerusalem. I will allow the people to be slaughtered by invading armies, and I will leave their dead bodies as food for the vultures and wild animals. I will reduce Jerusalem to ruins, making it a monument to their stupidity. All who pass by will be astonished and will gasp at the destruction they see there. I will see to it that your enemies lay siege to the city until all the food is gone. Then those trapped inside will eat their own sons and daughters and friends. They will be driven to utter despair.’

In fact, when Jerusalem’s food supplies ran out during the Babylonian siege in 586 B.C., cannibalism resulted (see Lamentations 2:20 and 4:10).

10 As these men watch you, Jeremiah, smash the jar you brought. 11 Then say to them, ‘This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: As this jar lies shattered, so I will shatter the people of Judah and Jerusalem beyond all hope of repair. They will bury the bodies here in Topheth, the garbage dump, until there is no more room for them. 12 This is what I will do to this place and its people, says the Lord. I will cause this city to become defiled like Topheth. 13 Yes, all the houses in Jerusalem, including the palace of Judah’s kings, will become like Topheth—all the houses where you burned incense on the rooftops to your star gods, and where liquid offerings were poured out to your idols.’”

A visual, a prop, an action. All to make the message more clear, more pointed.

14 Then Jeremiah returned from Topheth, the garbage dump where he had delivered this message, and he stopped in front of the Temple of the Lord. He said to the people there, 15 “This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel, says: ‘I will bring disaster upon this city and its surrounding towns as I promised, because you have stubbornly refused to listen to me.’”

“False gods never fail to fail.”

–Christopher Wright

_________________________

Music:

Time for us to stop and worship our God, the Creator and Redeemer and Sustainer of the world, our help in time of trouble, our everlasting hope and salvation.  We sing our praises to no false god; we do not forsake the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.  HERE  is a young classic hymn, “In Christ Alone,” by Keith Getty (music) and Stuart Townend (Lyrics); sung by Kristyn Getty. The song was published in 2001. I love this hymn and am learning it by heart to keep my faith on the tip of my tongue!

_________________________

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:
Flanagan.   http://jesuslovesyoutoday.org/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/Jeremiah_19.223123014_std.jpg
pieces of pottery.   https://i.ytimg.com/vi/N7XQmcdZmSc/hqdefault.jpg

2216.) Jeremiah 18

October 30, 2017

Jer18 take me use me

Jeremiah 18   (NLT)

The Potter and the Clay

The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, “Go down to the potter’s shop, and I will speak to you there.” So I did as he told me and found the potter working at his wheel. But the jar he was making did not turn out as he had hoped, so he crushed it into a lump of clay again and started over.

Then the Lord gave me this message: “O Israel, can I not do to you as this potter has done to his clay? As the clay is in the potter’s hand, so are you in my hand. If I announce that a certain nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down, and destroyed, but then that nation renounces its evil ways, I will not destroy it as I had planned. And if I announce that I will plant and build up a certain nation or kingdom, 10 but then that nation turns to evil and refuses to obey me, I will not bless it as I said I would.

11 “Therefore, Jeremiah, go and warn all Judah and Jerusalem. Say to them, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am planning disaster for you instead of good. So turn from your evil ways, each of you, and do what is right.’”

 Jeremiah was sent down to the potter’s house, and there he saw three simple things, conveying to him a fantastic lesson. You may have observed the same things that Jeremiah did, for the art of making a pot has not changed through the centuries. The wheel is now turned by an electric motor, but that is about the only difference. Even this is still controlled by the foot of the potter. The clay is the same as it has always been. The potter is the same, with his capable hands, working to mold and shape the clay into the vessel he has in mind.

What did Jeremiah see in this lesson? First there was the clay. Jeremiah knew, as he watched the potter shaping and molding the clay, that he was looking at a picture of himself, and of every man, and of every nation. We are the clay. Both Isaiah and Zechariah, in the Old Testament, join with Jeremiah in presenting this picture of the potter and the clay. In the New Testament we have the voice of Paul in that great passage in Romans 9, reminding us that God is the Potter and we are the clay. So Jeremiah saw the clay being shaped and molded into a vessel. Then some imperfection in the clay spoiled it in the potter’s hand, and the potter crumbled it up, and began anew the process of shaping it into a vessel that pleased him.

Jeremiah saw the wheel turning constantly, bringing the clay against the potter’s hand. That wheel stands for the turning circumstances of our life, under the control of the Potter, for it is the potter’s foot that guides the wheel. The lesson is clear. As our life is being shaped and molded by the Great Potter, it is the circumstances of our life which bring us again and again under the potter’s hand, under the pressure of the molding fingers of the Potter, so that he shapes the vessel according to his will.

Then, Jeremiah saw the potter. God, he knew, was the Great Potter, with absolute right over the clay to make it what he wanted it to be. Paul argues this with keen and clear logic in Romans 9: Shall what is formed say to the one who formed it, Why did you make me like this? Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9:20b-21) Of course he has. The vessel is shaped according to the image in the potter’s mind.

So Jeremiah, by watching, learned that an individual or a nation is clay in the Great Potter’s hands. He has a sovereign right to make it what he wants it to be. He has the skill and design to work with the clay and to bring it to pass. If there be some imperfection in the clay, something which mars the design, spoils the work, the potter simply crushes the clay down to a lump and begins again to make it yet a vessel according to his own mind. We can trust that the Lord is purposing everything for good.

–Ray Stedman

.

Jer18 potterswheel.jpg.

Music:

Amy Carmichael says, “No matter what our affliction, there is always hope. Cannot I do with you as this potter? asks the Lord. We are in His hand, and no one can snatch us from His grasp.”

HERE  is Hillsong and “The Potter’s Hand.”

_________________________

12 But the people replied, “Don’t waste your breath. We will continue to live as we want to, stubbornly following our own evil desires.”

13 So this is what the Lord says:

“Has anyone ever heard of such a thing,
    even among the pagan nations?
My virgin daughter Israel
    has done something terrible!
14 Does the snow ever disappear from the mountaintops of Lebanon?
    Do the cold streams flowing from those distant mountains ever run dry?
15 But my people are not so reliable, for they have deserted me;
    they burn incense to worthless idols.
They have stumbled off the ancient highways
    and walk in muddy paths.

snow-topped mountains, Bsharri, Lebanon

snow-topped mountains, Bsharri, Lebanon

You could depend on snow and mountain streams in nature, but God couldn’t depend on His people!

–William MacDonald

16 Therefore, their land will become desolate,
    a monument to their stupidity.
All who pass by will be astonished
    and will shake their heads in amazement.
17 I will scatter my people before their enemies
    as the east wind scatters dust.
And in all their trouble I will turn my back on them
    and refuse to notice their distress.”

A Plot against Jeremiah

18 Then the people said, “Come on, let’s plot a way to stop Jeremiah. We have plenty of priests and wise men and prophets. We don’t need him to teach the word and give us advice and prophecies. Let’s spread rumors about him and ignore what he says.”

The people of Jerusalem are fed up with Jeremiah and his speeches about their sin and God’s coming judgment.

19 Lord, hear me and help me!
    Listen to what my enemies are saying.
20 Should they repay evil for good?
    They have dug a pit to kill me,
though I pleaded for them
    and tried to protect them from your anger.
21 So let their children starve!
    Let them die by the sword!
Let their wives become childless widows.
    Let their old men die in a plague,
    and let their young men be killed in battle!
22 Let screaming be heard from their homes
    as warriors come suddenly upon them.
For they have dug a pit for me
    and have hidden traps along my path.
23 Lord, you know all about their murderous plots against me.
    Don’t forgive their crimes and blot out their sins.
Let them die before you.
    Deal with them in your anger.

Jeremiah expresses regret that he ever asked God to spare them.  Such a prayer is scarcely suitable for believers in this age of grace.

–William MacDonald

_________________________

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:
Take me, use me.   http://todaysinconvenienttruth.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/11962755230117311hcfajnlhc2.jpg
potter’s hands.   http://www.truthseekersministries.org/images/General_Articles/potter.jpg
potter’s wheel sketch.    http://www.smp.org/size/files/c44cd6e8bd3a76c59bc69bd22aae4b6c/Jer18_1-6potterswheel.jpg.540x.jpg
snow-topped mountains.   http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/u/TvyamNb-BivtNwcoxtkc5xGBuGkIMh_nj4UJHQKuorcp8bNZVfUkGavEak6XqoYZi5QmL_5IEc7wDQ/

2215.) Jeremiah 17

October 27, 2017

Jer17 watercolor

Jeremiah 17    (NLT)

Judah’s Sin and Punishment

“The sin of Judah
    is inscribed with an iron chisel—
engraved with a diamond point on their stony hearts
    and on the corners of their altars.

Because of their idolatry, which had caused sin to be deeply engraved in their hearts, there will be tragic consequences:

Even their children go to worship
    at their pagan altars and Asherah poles,
beneath every green tree
    and on every high hill.
So I will hand over my holy mountain—
    along with all your wealth and treasures
    and your pagan shrines—
as plunder to your enemies,
    for sin runs rampant in your land.

Jerusalem will fall . . .

The wonderful possession I have reserved for you
    will slip from your hands.
I will tell your enemies to take you
    as captives to a foreign land.

. . . and the people of Judah will be sent into exile.

For my anger blazes like a fire
    that will burn forever.”

“The human heart is an idol factory. Every one of us from our mother’s womb is an expert in inventing idols.”

–attributed to John Calvin

Wisdom from the Lord

This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
    who rely on human strength
    and turn their hearts away from the Lord.
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert,
    with no hope for the future.
They will live in the barren wilderness,
    in an uninhabited salty land.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water.

But I will bless the person
    who puts his trust in me.
He is like a tree growing near a stream
    and sending out roots to the water.

But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
    and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
    with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
    or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
    and they never stop producing fruit.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things,
    and desperately wicked.
    Who really knows how bad it is?

Jer17 Prov 4 23

Unregenerate human nature is in a grave condition without divine grace, “desperately wicked.” Other translations have it as “exceedingly corrupt” (ASV), “desperately sick” (ESV), “too sick to be healed” (GNT). It may seem a harsh description but I have noticed, in my life and in others’, that we do not drift towards righteousness. Left to our own devices, we prove the truth of this verse.

Psalm 19:14    (ESV)

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
    be acceptable in your sight,
    O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.

10 But I, the Lord, search all hearts
    and examine secret motives.
I give all people their due rewards,
    according to what their actions deserve.”

Jeremiah’s Trust in the Lord

11 Like a partridge that hatches eggs she has not laid,
    so are those who get their wealth by unjust means.
At midlife they will lose their riches;
    in the end, they will become poor old fools.
12 But we worship at your throne—
    eternal, high, and glorious!
13 O Lord, the hope of Israel,
    all who turn away from you will be disgraced.
They will be buried in the dust of the earth,
    for they have abandoned the Lord, the fountain of living water.

14 O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed;
    if you save me, I will be truly saved.
    My praises are for you alone!
15 People scoff at me and say,
“What is this ‘message from the Lord’ you talk about?
    Why don’t your predictions come true?”

With this taunt Jeremiah is accused of being a false prophet.

16 Lord, I have not abandoned my job
    as a shepherd for your people.
I have not urged you to send disaster.
    You have heard everything I’ve said.
17 Lord, don’t terrorize me!
    You alone are my hope in the day of disaster.
18 Bring shame and dismay on all who persecute me,
    but don’t let me experience shame and dismay.
Bring a day of terror on them.
    Yes, bring double destruction upon them!

Observing the Sabbath

Jer17 sabbath

19 This is what the Lord said to me: “Go and stand in the gates of Jerusalem, first in the gate where the king goes in and out, and then in each of the other gates. 20 Say to all the people, ‘Listen to this message from the Lord, you kings of Judah and all you people of Judah and everyone living in Jerusalem. 21 This is what the Lord says: Listen to my warning! Stop carrying on your trade at Jerusalem’s gates on the Sabbath day. 22 Do not do your work on the Sabbath, but make it a holy day. I gave this command to your ancestors, 23 but they did not listen or obey. They stubbornly refused to pay attention or accept my discipline.

24 “‘But if you obey me, says the Lord, and do not carry on your trade at the gates or work on the Sabbath day, and if you keep it holy, 25 then kings and their officials will go in and out of these gates forever. There will always be a descendant of David sitting on the throne here in Jerusalem. Kings and their officials will always ride in and out among the people of Judah in chariots and on horses, and this city will remain forever. 26 And from all around Jerusalem, from the towns of Judah and Benjamin, from the western foothills and the hill country and the Negev, the people will come with their burnt offerings and sacrifices. They will bring their grain offerings, frankincense, and thanksgiving offerings to the Lord’s Temple.

27 “‘But if you do not listen to me and refuse to keep the Sabbath holy, and if on the Sabbath day you bring loads of merchandise through the gates of Jerusalem just as on other days, then I will set fire to these gates. The fire will spread to the palaces, and no one will be able to put out the roaring flames.’”

“Similar principles apply to the Lord’s Day for Christians. It too is for spiritual and physical refreshment, remembrance of the Redeemer and our redemption, worship of the Lord, and commemorating our Lord’s first-day-of-the-week Resurrection victory.”

–William MacDonald

_________________________

Music:

I love verse 14:

O Lord, if you heal me, I will be truly healed;
    if you save me, I will be truly saved.
    My praises are for you alone!

A song of praise for our glorious Lord! “O Worship the King” was written by Sir Robert Grant. Born in 1779 in India, he went to college in England, became a lawyer, won a seat in Parliament, and returned to India as a director with the East India Company. In 1834 he was asked to be the governor of Bombay. He died four years later, and is best remembered for penning this hymn, his rendition of Psalm 104.  HERE  it is performed in St. Anne’s Cathedral, Belfast.

_________________________

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:
green tree watercolor.    http://farm6.staticflickr.com/5023/5612578210_1323d1ffba_z.jpg
tree by the waters.    http://plainadventure.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/tree-1024×768.jpg
above all else guard your heart.    http://jasonstuff.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/4-23_ProverbsDaily.jpg
Remember the Sabbath day.    http://www.rememberthesabbathday.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2016/06/sabbath_day_banner.jpg