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Worship Part 2 (Guest Post)

Worship Part 2 (Guest Post)

From James Quiggle:

These are the principles of worship:

1. Worship requires an appropriate manner, time, place, and attitude.
2. Faith is necessary to worship.
3. Dedicating one’s self to God is worship.
4. Dedicating one’s service to God is worship.
5. Worship is not acceptable if the believer harbors sin in his (or her) heart.
6. Sin must be confessed and repented in order to worship.
7. The act of confession and repentance of sin is worship.
8. Worship is both private and public, in secret and shared.
9. Worship must be based in a salvific relationship with God in Christ.
10. Worship is a time of sharing with God and one another, i.e., a time of fellowship.
11. Obedience to God’s will is necessary to worship.
12. Submission to God’s authority is necessary to worship.
13. Worship is the appreciation and proclamation of God’s Person and works.
14. The practical aspects of worship can include singing, chanting, music, dancing, testifying, preaching, and teaching.
15. The result of worship is the God’s approval of the worshiper.
16. Every act of any significance begins with worship.

Second Week of Advent Readings

Second Week of Advent Readings

Sunday Isaiah 40:3-5

3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. 4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: 5 And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the Lord hath spoken it.

Monday Psalms 43:3-5

3 O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles. 4 Then will I go unto the altar of God, unto God my exceeding joy: yea, upon the harp will I praise thee, O God my God. 5 Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God.

Tuesday Psalms 27:1-4

The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2 When the wicked, even mine enemies and my foes, came upon me to eat up my flesh, they stumbled and fell. 3 Though an host should encamp against me, my heart shall not fear: though war should rise against me, in this will I be confident. 4 One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in his temple.

Wednesday Isaiah 11:1-10

And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord; 3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: 4 But with righteousness shall he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth: and he shall smite the earth: with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips shall he slay the wicked. 5 And righteousness shall be the girdle of his loins, and faithfulness the girdle of his reins. 6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them. 7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. 8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice’ den. 9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea. 10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious

Thursday John 12:35-36

35 Then Jesus said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you. Walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you: for he that walketh in darkness knoweth not whither he goeth. 36 While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light. These things spake Jesus, and departed, and did hide himself from them.

Friday Ephesians 5:6-14

6 Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. 7 Be not ye therefore partakers with them. 8 For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: 9 (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) 10 Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. 11 And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them. 12 For it is a shame even to speak of those things which are done of them in secret. 13 But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. 14 Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.

Saturday 1 Peter 2:5-9

5 Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ. 6 Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded. 7 Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, 8 And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;

The Sign of Immanuel (Isaiah 7)

The Sign of Immanuel (Isaiah 7)

The significance of Advent

The vision of life that Advent gives us is twofold; it looks back to the first coming of Christ at Bethlehem, and it looks to the future when Christ will come again. In the interval between these two events we find meaning for our life as a Christian.

First we celebrate Christ-become-human. We view his life and experience his presence as a human being in our history. Christ came to show us what life can and should be. He gave us true and valid principles by which we can live god exalting lives. More importantly, He modeled the life that pleases God and, in His perfect obedience and substitutionary death, He purchased our vicarious atonement.

When Christ left this earth, he did not abandon us. He remains with us through the indwelling and ministry of the Holy Spirit, the Church, the Ordinances, the Scriptures and each other. He lives in community with us and keeps his vision of life before us through the faithful preaching of the Word. When Christ comes again, his presence will no longer be hidden behind the signs and symbols of various liturgies or the words of the Scriptures. His presence among us will be revealed in all its fullness, a presence that will never end, a presence that will perfect and complete our community.

7:1, 2. The Immanuel Prophecy (7:1—12:6) introduces the hope of the future in spite of pending judgment. Ahaz ruled Judah from 736 to 720 b.c. He was an ungodly king who refused Isaiah’s words of encouragement. Rezin was the last king of Syria to reign in Damascus. He was later killed by Tiglath-pileser of Assyria. Pekah was the king of northern Israel from 740 to 732 b.c. He usurped the throne by assassinating his predecessor, Pekahiah, and was later murdered by his successor, Hoshea, the last king of Israel. Syria is confederate with Ephraim refers to the fact that they had formed an alliance against Ahaz to force him into an alliance with them against Assyria. This event is generally dated at 734 b.c. What Ahaz fears is an invasion of Judah by Syria and Israel.

7:3–9. Isaiah is sent by the Lord to warn Ahaz not to form an alliance with Assyria, but to trust Him to rid the land of its enemies. Accompanying the prophet was Shear-jashub (“A Remnant Shall Return”), his son, whose name was indicative of hope. The location at the end of the conduit of the upper pool is the same place that the Assyrian Rabshakeh would later defy Hezekiah (36:2). The invading kings are described as smoking firebrands (lit., “smoldering sticks”). The prophet predicts that the threatened invasion will not succeed and that within threescore and five years (65 years) the northern kingdom will fall into captivity.


Ask for a Sign

Isaiah told Ahaz to ask God for a “sign.” Old Testament prophets often authenticated their messages by making a prediction or performing a miracle which proved God spoke through them.

Word Study: Virgin

Isaiah 7:14 This prophecy of the virgin is declared in Matt 1:22, 23 to be fulfilled in the birth of Jesus. There has been a great deal of discussion over the Hebrew word found here for virgin (almah) and the word that Matthew uses (parthenos). The latter refers unambiguously to a virgin, while the former (almah) has been said to refer to a young woman, in contrast to the Hebrew word bethulah, which is the equivalent of the Greek parthenos. It has also been noted that the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Hebrew OT, has parthenos here for almah, and that Matt 1:23 is taken from the Septuagint. Some have wondered why the Septuagint translators used the more specific word parthenos. It is fair to say that this question is the result of oversimplifying the vocabulary and misinterpreting the distinctions.

The Hebrew words almah and bethulah can actually refer to the same kind of woman; almah is a youthful woman of marriageable age, one who has not yet had her first child, while bethulah is one who has not been touched in an intimate way. Furthermore, in the present context it would be unthinkable to infer that the woman might have had sexual relations outside of marriage. So the well-known translation of “young woman” for almah, while technically not incorrect, can be viewed as too ambiguous for the Hebrew word and the context. Parthenos was an appropriate choice in the Greek. Another word, kore (for “girl”) could have been used, but it has a wider range of meaning than the Hebrew almah (Mark uses a related word, korasion, to translate Jesus’ Aramaic word talitha). It should also be acknowledged from a theological perspective that when Matthew cites the verse with parthenos (Matthew 1:23), he thereby authenticates it as inspired by virtue of his apostolic office.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son: The far or ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy goes far beyond Ahaz, to announce the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus Christ. Remember, in many cases, the Hebrew Prophets spoke to both near and far off events in their prophecies


This word is unusual. We might render it, to give it its true emphasis, “WITH US is God!” Thus the construction of this name captures the wonder of the Incarnation itself, that the God of glory would actually become a Man.

How do we know the prophecy speaks of Jesus?

We know this passage speaks of Jesus because the Holy Spirit says so through Matthew: “Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which is translated, “God with us.” (Matthew 1:23)

We know this passage speaks of Jesus because the prophecy is addressed not only to Ahaz, but also to David’s entire house (O house of David!).

We know this passage speaks of Jesus because it says the virgin shall conceive, and that conception would be a sign to David’s entire house. Those who deny the virgin birth of Jesus like to point out that the Hebrew word translated virgin (almah) can also be translated as “young woman.” The idea is that Isaiah was simply saying that a “young woman” would give birth, not a virgin. While the near fulfillment may have reference to a young woman giving birth, the far or ultimate fulfillment clearly points to a woman miraculously conceiving and giving birth. This is especially clear because the Old Testament never uses the word in a context other than virgin and because the Septuagint translates it categorically virgin (parthenos).

We know this passage speaks of Jesus because it says He will be known as Immanuel, meaning “God with Us.” This was true of Jesus in fact, not only as a title. Immanuel speaks both of the deity of Jesus (God with us) and His identification and nearness to man (God with us).

Call His name Immanuel: Jesus is truly Immanuel, God with us. “Christ, indeed, was not called by this name Immanuel that we anywhere read of… but the import of this name is most truly affirmed and acknowledged to be fully made good in him.” (Trapp)

“He is, therefore, called God with us, or united to us; which cannot apply to a man who is not God… it denotes not only the power of God, such as he usually displays by his servant, but a union of person, by which Christ became God-man.” (Calvin)


“In what sense then, is Christ GOD WITH US? Jesus is called Immanuel, or God with us, in his incarnation; God with us, by the influences of his Holy Spirit, in the holy sacrament, in the preaching of his word, in private prayer. And God with us, through every action of our life, that we begin, continue, and end in his name. He is God with us, to comfort, enlighten, protect, and defend us, in every time of temptation and trial, in the hour of death, in the day of judgment; and God with us and in us, and we with and in him, to all eternity.” (Clarke)

The significance of the Advent Promise

God has determined to act in human history. Petty kings’ dreams of conquest, or their fears for preservation, are meaningless. This scenario does deal with an immediate deliverance but also looks forward to a greater deliverance; one day the true King, God Himself, would take on human form. When God became Man with us, then the fears of Ahaz and all the glory of the kingdoms of this world would dissolve in the revelation of God’s true glory. The King would enter history as a Man, born of a virgin. When He, the ultimate sign, appeared, all nations would recognize the majesty and wisdom of the Sovereign God.

YHWH, Himself is the sign

Human parthenogenesis, a virgin birth, is a statistical impossibility. In fact, outside of Divine intervention, the odds of parthenogenesis are so small that I have a better chance of winning the Powerball while standing on the side of I-10 in a rainstorm getting struck by lightning simultaneous with being hit by a Mack Truck. In point of fact, the only way this could happen is found in Matthew 1:18 (NLT), “This is how Jesus the Messiah was born. His mother, Mary, was engaged to be married to Joseph. But before the marriage took place, while she was still a virgin, she became pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit.”

God with Us

If you have a problem with the “virgin” conceiving and bearing a child that should be nothing in comparison to the thought of Immanuel––God with us in the flesh. That is the greatest feat. How else could the “Word become flesh and dwell among us” than by means of a virgin becoming pregnant and bearing a son? God in the flesh means “God with us.” The child to be born will be called Immanuel; therefore, the translation “virgin” is demanded in the sentence. It is nothing short of a miracle, and that is exactly where the problem lies with those who want to reject “virgin” in Isaiah 7:14.

The child called Immanuel will be a special child and will embody the truth, “God with us.” This special child born of a virgin will be God among His people. Only as we look into His face, listen to His voice and see Him in action do we know what God is really like (Hebrews 1:1–3).

All of Christianity rests upon the foundation of this prophecy in Isaiah chapter seven. God meant the sign to be earth shaking. God meant it to be such a sign that when it was actually fulfilled in history men would stand back and say, I saw God do it! It is something only God can do.

The sign of Immanuel, “God with us,” is the coming of the child of a virgin. That sign was fulfilled in the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Nothing in history approaches the mystery, beauty and glory of the LORD God coming to be with His people.

God sent Gabriel to Mary and said, “Behold, you will conceive in your womb, and bear a son, and you shall name Him, Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and His kingdom will have no end” (Luke 1:31–33).

Mary got rather upset with the angel. “How can this be, since I am a virgin,” she demanded (Luke 1:34). There is no question about the Greek word she used. The word for “virgin” always means a marriageable young woman who had preserved the purity of her body. She kept herself sexually pure. If the child were illegitimate it could not be a sign. The whole context of the Bible rules it out. If the birth was out of the ordinary, and unusual because she was a virgin then it is of such a magnitude that God has come to be with His people and deal with their sins. There is only one person in history of whom it can be said that He was God incarnate, God with His people, and that is Jesus Christ. The very presence of this child, born of the Virgin Mary in Bethlehem cannot be applied to anyone else. Jesus the Christ is the Son of the Virgin and the Mighty God.

The deity and preexistence of Christ demanded this miraculous conception and Virgin Birth of Jesus Christ.

“And the angel answered and said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy offspring shall be called the Son of God. . . For nothing will be impossible with God” (Luke 1:3537).

“Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. . . . And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sin. . . . And Joseph . . . kept her a virgin until she gave birth to a Son; and he called His name Jesus” (Matthew 1:18–25et passim; cf. Luke 2:1–21). They named Him “Jesus.” They named Him after His Father! They called Him Joshua. The original full form is Jehoshua, meaning “Yahweh our salvation,” “Yahweh saves,” Yahweh’s salvation.”

“God with us.” Now we know what He is like. This could only be true when the Word became flesh and dwelt among His people in the person of the Anointed of God. Oh, the wonder of wonder, God in the corporeal self–manifestation to His people. He is a super–human person. He is the incarnation of deity. This coming child would be God among His people. John 1:1–3181814:14–20Colossians 2:9–10;



First Week of Advent Scripture Readings

First Week of Advent Scripture Readings

Sunday Romans 13:11-14

11 And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. 12 The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light.

13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. 14 But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.

Monday 1 Corinthians 1:3-9

Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

Tuesday Mark 13:33-37

33 Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is. 34 For the Son of Man is as a man taking a far journey, who left his house, and gave authority to his servants, and to every man his work, and commanded the porter to watch. 35 Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning: 36 Lest coming suddenly he find you sleeping. 37 And what I say unto you I say unto all, Watch.

Wednesday John 1:1-5

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not.

Thursday John 1:6-9

There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

Friday Jeremiah 33:14-16

14 Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The Lord our righteousness.

Saturday Isaiah 6

In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphims: each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of his glory. And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke. Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts. Then flew one of the seraphims unto me, having a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with the tongs from off the altar: And he laid it upon my mouth, and said, Lo, this hath touched thy lips; and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me. And he said, Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not. 10 Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and convert, and be healed. 11 Then said I, Lord, how long? And he answered, Until the cities be wasted without inhabitant, and the houses without man, and the land be utterly desolate, 12 And the Lord have removed men far away, and there be a great forsaking in the midst of the land. 13 But yet in it shall be a tenth, and it shall return, and shall be eaten: as a teil tree, and as an oak, whose substance is in them, when they cast their leaves: so the holy seed shall be the substance thereof.


Thanksliving: Giving God Exuberant Praise

Thanksliving: Giving God Exuberant Praise

Psalm 100

Make a joyful shout to the Lord, all you lands! 2 Serve the Lord with gladness; Come before His presence with singing. 3 Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. 4 Enter into His gates with thanksgiving, And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name. 5 For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, And His truth endures to all generations.


Giving Praise to the Lord.

Make a joyful shout, serve the Lord with gladness

The psalmist does not declare God’s sovereignty. Neither does he extol God’s amazing character. Instead, he commands that we give God His due, worship and service.

{Cornerstone Commentary: “The crescendo of praise that has been building since Psalm 93 reaches a climax in Psalm 100” (Howard 1997:180). Psalm 100 brings to a conclusion the central celebration of the Lord’s kingship, a kingship that makes him “Lord of all the earth” (97:5) and “supreme over all the earth” (97:9). His glorious deeds have been published “among the nations,” (96:3) and his righteousness has been revealed “to every nation” (98:2). So it is fitting that Psalm 100 addresses “all the earth” with its invitation (100:1-4) and motivation (100:5) to worship the Lord.


The Invitation/Call to Worship (100:1-4). There are seven imperatives in these verses. “Acknowledge that the Lord is God” (100:3) is the central imperative. It is central in that it is preceded and followed by three imperatives and surrounded by the imperative “come” (100:2b, 4a). It also stands somewhat apart from the other imperatives. Knowing is different from the liturgical actions envisioned in the other six imperatives. Knowing is foundational to doing. At the foundation of worship is knowing the central truth about the one we worship. Simply put, “the Lord is God!” But there were and are many gods calling for worship. Who is this God? He is the one who “made us,” perhaps in the sense that he created us, but especially in the sense that he saved us. 1 And the biblical logic is that since he made us, we belong to him (see 24:1-2). Yet how do we belong to him? One word in the Hebrew gives the answer: ‘ammo [TH 5971A, ZH 6639]—”his people.” Not his enemies. “His people.” And not just any kind of people. We are “the sheep of his pasture” (100:3), “the people he watches over” (95:7). We are the people he loves and cares for, as a shepherd loves and cares for his sheep. In knowing him, we know ourselves, for to know that he is the God who made us is to know that we are the people he loves. This knowledge is the spring from which all the actions of worship flow.


Surrounding this knowledge of who God is and who we are is the dual invitation to enter his presence with songs of thanksgiving (100:2b, 4a). We have responded to the call to “serve the Lord with reverent fear” (2:11), and we have submitted to “God’s royal son” (2:12), so we do not enter with servile fear but to “serve/worship the Lord with gladness” (100:2). And in this spirit of gladness we shout for joy, give thanks to him, and bless his name.}



A joyful shout: “The original word signifies a glad shout, such as loyal subjects give when their king appears among them. Our happy God should be worshipped by a happy people; a cheerful spirit is in keeping with his nature, his acts, and the gratitude which we should cherish for his mercies.” (Spurgeon)


All you landsThis admonition is not only for the House of Israel, it is also for ha’Goyim, the nations. All people everywhere are to worship the Lord, the one true, living, eternal God who is indescribable in majesty, unrivalled in beauty, the source of all things. By His very nature, this is what God deserves.

Micah looks forward to the day when the nations will indeed come into God’s presence with praise: “In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and peoples will stream to it. (Mic. 4:1)


Think of this shout as what you might hear when a victorious army returns from battle or for a more modern connotation, the shout of fans of a victorious football team after the Superbowl


Serve the LORD with gladness: The whole earth is invited to serve the LORD. The Psalmist likely had in mind the service of worship or temple rituals, but the principle applies to any service directed to God. Those who serve the LORD should do it with gladness.


Adam Clarke and Charles Spurgeon on serving the Lord with gladness:

“It is your privilege and duty to be happy in your religious worship. The religion of the true God is intended to remove human misery, and to make mankind happy. He whom the religion of Christ has not made happy does not understand that religion, or does not make a proper use of it.” (Clarke)


“As for the true believer in Jesus, he serves his God because he loves to serve him; he assembles with the great congregation because it is his delight to worship the Most High.” (Spurgeon)


Come before His presence with singing: As in many places in the psalms, praise is expressed in song. Singing is not the only way to praise God, but it is an important and chief way to praise Him. I would go so far as to say that exuberant singing is wholly appropriate and, in fact, is entirely consistent with what is known as the “Regulative Principle of Worship.” We are to worship God in the manner that He indicates in the Scripture and right here, in this Psalm, we see that God calls for exuberant praise.

Know that the LORD, He is God: Right here, bring to mind Isaiah 42:8, “I am YHWH, that is my name. I will not give my glory to another or share my praise with idols.

Any other than the Triune God of Scripture is a pretender, a demonically empowered falsity designed to damn your soul. YHWH, alone, is God. There is no other (Deuteronomy 6:4)


“Be convinced of it, ye heathens, whose fantasies have forged false gods; and ye Jews, acknowledge the true God to be Three in one, and One in three.” (John Trapp)


It is He who has made us: YHWH is our Elohim, the creator God of all things. We worship Him for giving us life.

[Albert Barnes: Know ye that the Lord, he is God That is, Let all the nations know that Yahweh is the true God. The idols are vanity. They have no claim to worship; but God is the Creator of all, and is entitled to universal adoration.

It is he that hath made us The Hebrew is, “He made us,” and this expresses the exact idea. The fact that he is the Creator proves that he is God, since no one but God can perform the work of creation. The highest idea that we can form of power is that which is evinced in an act of creation; that is, in causing anything to exist where there was nothing before. Every created thing, therefore, is a proof of the existence of God; the immensity of the universe is an illustration of the greatness of his power.

And not we ourselves Margin, “And his we are.” The difference between the text and the margin is owing to a different reading in the Hebrew, varying only in a single letter. The reading in the text is, “And not <h3808> we;” in the margin, “And to him <h8705>) we.” These words would be pronounced in the same manner, and either of them would convey good sense. The weight of authority is in favor of the common reading, “And not we;” that is, we are not self-created; we derive our being from him. All that we have and are, we owe to him.

We are his people By virtue of creation. The highest “property” which can exist is that derived from an act of creation. He that has brought anything into existence has a right to it, and may dispose of it as he pleases. It is on this idea essentially that all idea of “property” is founded.

And the sheep of his pasture As the shepherd owns the flock, so God is our owner; as the shepherd guards his flock and provides for it, so God guards us and provides for us. (Psalm 95:7]


F.B. Meyer tells us:  “The sense of God’s proprietorship is the true basis of our consecration. We must realize His rights over us before we can freely give Him His due. Those rights are manifold in their sweet reasonableness; but amongst them all, this of creation is one of the chief. God has a right to us because He has made us.”

We give God honor and praise and service because we are the Covenant People-the Redeemed. We are His people and the sheep of His pasture. Moreover, we have an even better reason to celebrate, we are adopted as children and are now joint heirs with the Prince of Heaven, namely Jesus Himself (Romans 8:17).


If that was not enough, consider Revelation 22:1-5 (NIV) Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse. The throne of God and of the Lamb will be in the city, and his servants will serve him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. There will be no more night. They will not need the light of a lamp or the light of the sun, for the Lord God will give them light. And they will reign for ever and ever. Do you really need more reason to celebrate?


How do we approach God in worship? Enter into His gates with thanksgiving,
And into His courts with praise. Be thankful to Him, and bless His name.


Nehemiah 9:5 (ASV) Then the Levites… said, Stand up and bless Jehovah your God from everlasting to everlasting; and blessed be thy glorious name, which is exalted above all blessing and praise.


Exalted above all blessing and praise…God is so absolutely superlative that no words of praise adequately describe Him. We will bless God and praise His Name from everlasting to everlasting, we will never get tired of it. Long past the point where time is no more, we will exalt God’s name above everything.


Now the Psalmist pictures the people of God from all the lands entering through the gates and into the courts of the temple. As God’s people approach, they should do so with thanksgiving, gratitude that recognizes how much God has done for them. In the Millennial Kingdom we will see this happen and will watch, first hand, as the redeemed from the Tribulation and all of Israel who has been saved come before the Throne of the Lamb in celebratory praise (Micah 4:1).


In commenting on entering the courts with praise Adam Clarke says “Publicly worship God; and when ye come to the house of prayer, be thankful that you have such a privilege; and when you enter his courts, praise him for the permission.”


Into His courts with praise: Thanks and praise merge together, as God’s people are thankful and bless His name. When I was a child we used to sing in church,


We bring the sacrifice of praise
Into the house of the Lord.


We bring the sacrifice of praise
Into the house of the Lord.


And we offer up to You
The sacrifices of thanksgiving;

And we offer up to You
The sacrifices of joy


Sacrifices were ended at Calvary but even today we offer up thanksgiving and joy as we celebrate the goodness of the Lord.


YHWH is no longer distant; because of Calvary we can come before the Throne and be received as friends where, once, we were enemies. The Cross is reason enough to celebrate the kindness of the Lord and when you have been given 10,000 years to praise Him for His goodness you will just be getting started.


What is that praise going to look like? What will our fullness before the Throne consist of? The song, “The Mighty One of Israel says it perfectly”


The eyes of the blind shall be opened and they’ll see

The ears of the deaf shall hear

The lame man shall jump and shall leap as a hart

The tongue of the dumb shall sing


Or in the words of Charles Wesley

Hear Him ye deaf His praise ye dumb

Your loosened tongues employ

Ye blind behold your savior come

And leap ye lame for joy


Why do we praise?

{Cornerstone Commentary: The Motivation for Worship (100:5). What is implicit about the character of God in 100:3 becomes explicit in 100:5: “The Lord is good.” The king who is “robed in majesty and armed with strength” (93:1) is good. “The God of vengeance” (94:1) is good. The “great King above all gods” (95:3) is good. The God who “will judge all peoples fairly” (96:10) is good. The God before whom “every god must bow” (97:7) is good. The God who “has revealed his righteousness to every nation” (98:2) is good. The God who “punished them when they went wrong” (99:8) is good. The God who “made us” to be his people (100:3) is good. This is why we shout for joy, worship with gladness, come before him with songs of joy, give him thanks, and bless his name.}


For the LORD is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.


For the LORD is good: This thanks and praise is right in recognition of God’s goodness. He is good in His plans, good in His grace, good in His forgiveness, good in His covenant, and good in every aspect of His being.


To paraphrase Paul Washer “the scariest truth in the Scripture is that God is good and we are not.” I would add to that “The truth that God is good and we are not may be scary but it is also very comforting. We can rest peacefully in the knowledge that God will always do what is good and right; He is, Himself, the very definition of what is good and right.”

{Cornerstone Commentary: And we are secure in this goodness, because “his unfailing love continues forever, and his faithfulness continues to each generation.” He is our God forever. We are his people forever. We are the sheep he cares for forever. So we worship him forever. When we think about the kind of God our God is, is it too much to ask that we worship and serve him with the whole of our lives (Rom 12:1)? We belong to him, a God who is good and loving and faithful. We should honor him with the whole of our lives.}


As Jim Boice pointed out…

“The gods of the heathen were not good. They were selfish and capricious. You could never know when they might turn against you and do you harm. Not so our God. The God of the Bible is and has always been good.”


Ultimately we give thanks to God for grace. Now what is grace? Paraphrasing one of my teachers, Wayne Kinde, “Grace is every quality of God that is brought to bear on our behalf through the Lord Jesus Christ.


Grace saves (Ephesians 2:8-10).


No matter how much sin increases, Grace increases to cover it (Romans 5:20)


In Revelation 22 we will see the Edenic State restored. Imagine, if you can, what the praise will sound like when eyes that have never seen behold the Lamb. Allow your mind to hear the thunder of ten thousands of tongues that had never before spoken as they shout the Lambs praise or see in your mind a host that has never walked before and now, like David of old, they dance with all their might before the Lord.


God will be ours and we will be His. No longer will this wretched body, stained by sin, separate us. It will be like it was in the beginning…we will fellowship with God face to face and will celebrate Him forever!


A Stone of Rememberance

A Stone of Rememberance

Devotional Reading: Psalm 42:1–5

Scripture text: Genesis 28:10–22


Key Verse

I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.Genesis 28:15



  1. From Scripture to Song

The Scripture text today from Genesis 28 records Jacob’s experience with God via a dream one night as he was departing from Canaan. The passage has prompted two well-known songs over the years. One is the African American slave spiritual “We Are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” The other is the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee.” The latter is perhaps best known as the song that the musicians on board the Titanic purportedly began to play as the ship plunged into the icy waters of the Atlantic Ocean on that tragic April night in 1912. Much of the content of this hymn is based on the incident found in today’s text.

While the words and melody of this hymn are comforting to hear or sing, we must remember that Jacob’s circumstances in Genesis 28 were very uncertain. He was on the run from his angry brother, Esau. Jacob’s self-exile had him traveling to a place he had never been and moving beyond the territory of the promised land for the first time.

When would he be able to return home? What did the future hold? Jacob came to realize that what he was leaving behind did not include the blessing and protection of God. God had his future well in hand.

  1. Lesson Context

When Esau realized that he had been outwitted by his brother Jacob (for the second time), he determined to kill Jacob, though not until after Isaac’s death. Rebekah learned of Esau’s plan and urged Jacob to flee northward to Harran (Genesis 27:41–45). This was the place where Abraham stopped and stayed for a time on his way from Ur of the Chaldeans to Canaan. Abraham’s father, Terah, had died in Harran (11:32), and apparently Abraham’s brother Nahor had decided to remain there. Jacob was thus being sent to stay with family, specifically with Rebekah’s brother Laban (see lesson 9).

Rebekah then spoke to Isaac about her dislike for the Hittite women in the region (two of whom Esau had previously married) and her concern that Jacob might marry one of them (Genesis 27:46). This persuaded Isaac to do what his father Abraham’s servant had done for him years before: secure a wife for Isaac from his family in the area of Harran. Isaac, however, did not send a servant to do this; he sent Jacob himself (28:1, 2). Isaac may well have been aware of Esau’s intentions to kill Jacob.

Genesis 28:6–9 notes that when Esau recognized that Isaac had sent Jacob away to find a wife, Esau married a daughter of Ishmael (Abraham’s first son by Hagar). Thus Esau married someone with closer family ties. He seems to have desired to lessen Isaac and Rebekah’s disappointment with him on account of the Hittite women he had married. Perhaps Esau wanted to allay some of the hurt Isaac no doubt felt in having been taken advantage of and deceived.



Character Profile:

28:10 Jacob: A Foreshadowing of National Israel

Jacob’s whole life and character are a clear picture of the nation of Israel, which is descended from him. The following outline will show the likenesses:

  1. Although Jacob was not the firstborn, he got the rights of a firstborn son because Esau did not want them. Although Israel did not come into being as a nation as soon as Gentile nations, it has a place in God’s favor that Gentiles do not have because they did not want it.
  2. For many years Jacob was out of the land God gave him, because of his own sin and weak faith. For many years, the nation, Israel, was out of their land because of their sin and lack of faith. They became a nation again in 1948.
  3. All the time Jacob was away, he still tried to get God’s blessing by his own efforts. He became very rich during that time, as many Israelites/Jews have been in the past.
  4. Going back to the land, he was still the same old Jacob, but God met him there and changed his character and even his name. Forever after that he was conscious of his own weakness but also of his trust in the mighty God. Jews have been going back to their land. They still continue in unbelief and sin, but God will surely change their hearts and even their name, so that the nation shall forever after be a praise and a glory to Him. See Isaiah 60:21 and Jeremiah 31:33.


Character Profile: Jacob (27:1-35:29)

Jacob, younger twin son of Isaac and Rebekah, struggled with his twin brother Esau in the womb and was born grasping his heel (25:24-26). God told Rebekah that the boys represented two nations and that the older son would serve the younger (25:23).

Isaac favored Esau, an outdoorsman; Rebekah preferred Jacob, who was happier at home. Once, Esau returned famished from hunting and Jacob bought his birthright with some red stew he had cooked (25:27-34; see Heb 12:16). Later, Isaac asked Esau to prepare wild game so he could eat and bless him (27:1-4; cp. 25:28). Rebekah sent Jacob to deceive Isaac into blessing him instead, and her ploy was successful (27:5-29). Jacob’s ruse was soon discovered (27:30-35), but legally valid blessings were irrevocable promises (27:33). So Isaac gave Esau a lesser blessing (27:36-40), and Esau plotted to kill Jacob (27:41). Rebekah convinced Isaac to send Jacob away to her brother Laban so that Jacob would marry among relatives (27:46).

So Isaac transferred the covenant promises to Jacob and sent him to Haran (28:1-5). Along the way, God appeared to Jacob in a dream and affirmed the promises of land and descendants that he had given to Abraham and Isaac (28:10-15). Jacob worshiped the Lord and named the place Bethel (“house of God”).

At Haran, Jacob began to serve his uncle Laban (chs 29-31). Jacob loved Laban’s daughter Rachel and worked seven years to marry her, but Laban deceived him by substituting his older daughter Leah on Jacob’s wedding night. Jacob worked seven more years for Rachel and an additional six years to acquire flocks for himself (30:25-43; see also 31:38-42). Despite many hardships, he had thirteen children and became very prosperous.

After twenty years, God told Jacob to return to Canaan (31:3). Fearing reprisals from Laban and his sons (31:1-2), Jacob organized his caravan and left while Laban was away (31:4-21). Laban gave chase, but God prevented him from harming Jacob (31:22-24, 29). Laban instead upbraided Jacob for leaving stealthily and for stealing his idols (31:25-30; see also 31:19). Jacob let Laban search his tents, but the idols were not found (31:33-35), and Jacob became angry (31:36-42). Though their conflict remained unresolved (31:43), the two men made a peace covenant (31:44-54); the location formed the lasting boundary between Israel and Aram.

Jacob now faced Esau and God. When Esau came to meet him with 400 men, Jacob sought God’s protection and sent gifts to pacify his estranged brother (32:3-21). During a night that symbolized his whole life, Jacob wrestled alone with a man who dislocated his hip and gave him the blessing he sought (32:22-32). God changed his name to Israel (“God fights”).

Jacob met Esau and the two were reconciled (33:1-11); Esau was gracious and forgiving, and Jacob shared some of his blessing. Esau then returned to Seir while Jacob continued to Canaan. In Shechem, Jacob bought land and built an altar (33:16-20), then moved to Bethel and expelled all foreign idols from his household (35:1-8). God reaffirmed Jacob’s new name, Israel, and renewed his promises of land and descendants (35:9-15).

Jacob’s favoritism for Rachel extended to her son Joseph, whom Jacob intended to anoint as the firstborn and heir (37:1-4), a plan that God confirmed through dreams (37:5-11). But then Joseph’s brothers sold him as a slave (Gen 37:9-28) and for over twenty years Jacob believed he was dead. Only after letting Benjamin go to Egypt in Judah’s care did Jacob learn that Joseph was alive and would be the source of famine relief for his family (43:1-14; 45:24-28). Jacob’s spirits revived. He moved to Egypt and joyously reunited with his favorite son at Goshen (Gen 46:28-30), where he prospered for seventeen more years.

When Jacob approached death at age 147, he arranged for the future of his family. He made Joseph swear to bury him in Canaan (47:29-31; 49:29-32). He gave Joseph’s sons his prime blessing (48:1-20) and put Ephraim, the younger son, first. He gave assurance that the family would return to Canaan (48:21-22), then blessed each of his sons and prophesied the future of their descendants (49:1-28). He died (49:33) and was buried at the cave of Machpelah, accompanied by his sons and a large Egyptian procession. His death marked the end of the patriarchal age and the beginning of Israel’s growth as a nation in Egypt until they returned to live again in the Promised Land (see Exodus—Joshua).

The name “Jacob” became synonymous with the nation of Israel (see Num 23:7, 21; 24:5; Hos 12:2). God called the nation to serve him as their forefathers had done (Hos 12:3-13). He promised Israel the same love that he had shown toward Jacob (Mal 1:2). And he promised that a conquering ruler would come from Jacob’s descendants (Gen 49:8-12; Num 24:17-19).

Word Study: Ertetz

Hebrew Pronunciation [EHR ehtz]
Translation land
Uses in Genesis 311
Uses in the OT 2,505
Focus passage Genesis 28:4,12-14

‘Erets is one of the most common and flexible OT nouns, whose meanings seem derived from the idea of land (Gen 2:5). Often it refers to nations such as the land of Israel. ‘Erets denotes area, region, homeland, country, or earth, the latter often in conjunction with “heaven” to represent the whole world (Gen 1:1; 20:1; 21:23; 30:25; 34:1). ‘Erets means district (1Ch 13:2). It is soil (Lv 27:30) or dirt (Jer 17:13) but may suggest the land’s produce (Lv 27:30). ‘Erets can involve distance (Gen 35:16), the surface of the ground (Jdg 6:37), or private property (Gen 23:15). ‘Erets indicates earth (Ps 66:4) or world (Gen 41:57) as the inhabitants of the earth. It describes the depths of the earth (Isa 44:23) and, with modifiers, the underworld (Ezek 26:20). “People of the land” can connote common people (Lv 4:27). “Field of the land” indicates open fields (Lv 25:31).






  1. Moving Away

(Genesis 28:10–15)

  1. Jacob’s Departure (v. 10)


Jacob’s encounter with God at Bethel serves several important purposes within the Jacob cycle of the narratives of Patriarchal History. In these narratives, Jacob meets God twice, once here upon his departure from Canaan and once again at the Jabbok River upon his return (32:22-32). These two direct encounters thus provide the framework for Jacob’s trip to Haran; they are sacred portals for his exit from and entry into the promised land, signifying God’s presence with him on his journey (v. 15). Jacob’s encounter with God also advances the theme of promise in the ancestral narratives: It confirms that the promises to his fathers are to be Jacob’s as well (v. 13). Finally, Jacob’s encounter with God provides an explanation for the naming of Bethel and for the founding of its sacred precinct.


The ladder of Jacob’s dream reminds us of Jesus’ words about the angels “ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (Jn 1:51), vividly depicting Himself as the Way into the heavenlies. Certainly Jacob did not deserve such grace after cheating his brother out of the blessings of Isaac. Indeed, he was already suffering by being banished from the fellowship of his family. Nevertheless, God mercifully confirmed the covenant promises made to Abraham and Isaac concerning the land and the descendants. His words, “I am with you and will keep you” speak of God’s personal presence for protection and guidance, anticipating Jacob’s return to the land, so that all the promises might be fulfilled. Surely the grace of God goes far beyond our small expectations.



  1. Jacob left Beersheba and set out for Harran.

Beersheba is the town where Isaac had eventually settled, following a series of disputes with the Philistines over the ownership of certain wells (Genesis 26:15–33). A journey from Beersheba to Harran, where Jacob’s relatives live, is approximately 550 miles. This is quite a journey for someone who is used to living “among the tents” (25:27)!

Genesis 26:34 states that Esau is 40 years old when he marries two Hittite women. Jacob’s age when he leaves his parents to find a wife is not stated. Circumstantial data based on subsequent events are used by some scholars to suggest him to be age 77 when he leaves his parents. An alternative viewpoint calculates an age of 57.

  1. Jacob’s Dream (vv. 11–15)

11a. When he reached a certain place, he stopped for the night because the sun had set.

Later we learn that the certain place where Jacob stops for the night is the town of Luz (Genesis 28:19). It is approximately 60 miles north of Beersheba, so it may take Jacob a few days to reach that point in his travels. With no streetlights or flashlights available to illuminate the way, travelers of the era must stop when the sun sets. Even if the moon were full, walking would be problematic.

Two meals per day are customary, and perhaps Jacob has the second of these before bedding down for the night. His meal may be something his mother prepared for him, which is possible at this stage of the journey. But Jacob will have to live off the land as the journey progresses.


 11b. Taking one of the stones there, he put it under his head and lay down to sleep.

We may wonder how Jacob intends to get much sleep if he is using a stone for his pillow! We will discover the importance of this detail when we get to Genesis 28:18, below. And this will be no ordinary night of sleep in any case.


12a. He had a dream in which he saw a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven,

The stairway of which Jacob dreams is believed, by some, to be more than just a set of steps, but part of a structure known as a ziggurat. A ziggurat resembles a pyramid in shape, but includes steps that one climbs until reaching a platform at the top. An altar or shrine may be there, used by worshippers for sacrifices or other religious ritual.


This vision serves as reminder to Jacob that God intends to dwell on the Earth, hence naming the area Bethel.


12b. and the angels of God were ascending and descending on it.

Probably more captivating to Jacob than the structure is what he sees on it. Angels will play an important part in the account of Jacob’s life, particularly from the standpoint of his spiritual pilgrimage (Genesis 32:1, 24). In the case before us, he dreams of them. The progression (dreaming of angels, meeting them, touching one) may reflect Jacob’s progress in his journey with the Lord, climaxed with the changing of his name by the angel with whom he struggled (Genesis 32:28).

Centuries later, Jesus seems to comment on this incident very early in his ministry. It happens during his first meeting with Nathanael, who becomes one of his disciples. Expressing astonishment at what Jesus knows about him, Nathanael declares Jesus to be both the Son of God and the king of Israel (John 1:49). In response, Jesus declares that Nathanael will witness “greater things” (1:50).

One such thing will be seeing “heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man” (John 1:51). The implication is that Jesus will serve the function of a stairway as he bridges the gap between Heaven and earth, between the holy God and sinful humanity. This happens through his death and resurrection.


13a. There above it stood the Lord,

Archaeologists have discovered that the steps of pagan ziggurats are for gods to descend to earth. What Jacob sees, however, is different: the Lord stands above the stairway and makes no move to descend. What exact form Jacob sees is unknown to us. But it is likely more awe-inspiring and glorious than the angels.


13b. and he said: “I am the Lord, the God of your father Abraham and the God of Isaac. I will give you and your descendants the land on which you are lying.

As the Lord speaks to Jacob, it is worth noting that he says nothing whatsoever about Jacob’s deceptive actions toward his father and his brother. That is not what this wanderer from home needs to hear at this point. Instead, God reaffirms the covenant promises made to grandfather Abraham and father Isaac.

The promise embraces two important elements: the land and Jacob’s descendants. The fact that the land will be given to Jacob’s descendants means that he will have a wife and at least one child. Such an affirmation is likely intended to provide much-needed assurance to Jacob, since he will soon be leaving the territory of the land of promise to go to Harran. Perhaps Jacob has been wondering if and how the promise will be affected by his departure from the land (or by his treatment of his father and brother). If he harbors any such doubts, God has come to ease them.


14a. “Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and you will spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south.

This language reflects God’s promises to Abraham. The phrase like the dust of the earth was used when Abraham separated from Lot and as Abraham was promised all the land he could see (Genesis 13:14–18). Jacob may have heard about this from his grandfather personally, for Jacob was 15 when Abraham died (computed from 21:5; 25:7, 20, 26).


14b. “All peoples on earth will be blessed through you and your offspring.

This part of the message was first stated in Genesis 12:3, when Abraham was leaving Harran (the place Jacob is now headed). To bless all peoples on earth has been God’s larger plan all along. It is not a new element.


Here, God confirms that Jacob will be the heir of Messiah, not Esau even though Esau would have been the natural choice. Jacob already has the birthright, Isaac’s blessing, and now the Covenant is confirmed by God Himself. Jacob (Israel) will be the father of the people who bring us Messiah.


  1. “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

God’s promise I am with you is one of the most common and reassuring statements in Scripture (see Genesis 26:24; Isaiah 41:10; 43:5; Jeremiah 1:8, 19; 15:20; 42:11; 46:28; Haggai 1:13; 2:4; Matthew 28:20; Acts 18:10). For Jacob these words provide further encouragement as he embarks on life as a fugitive and a sojourner. In pagan thinking, gods are local, not global. They are limited to the territory or country that they rule. But Jacob, though he is moving away from the land promised to his grandfather and father, is not moving away from the presence or protection of God. Finding a place outside of God’s “jurisdiction” is impossible (Psalm 139:7–12).

The landscape covered by God’s promises to Jacob is quite extensive: the Lord will watch over him throughout his travels, bring him back to his homeland, and fulfill everything he has promised to Jacob. In fact, God says I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you. This does not mean that once God’s promises have been fulfilled, Jacob is on his own. It expresses the degree of God’s commitment to keeping his word.

  1. Marking the Place

(Genesis 28:16–19)

  1. Acknowledging God (vv. 16, 17)
  2. When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, “Surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it.”

Jacob seems to awaken as soon as the dream ends, while it is yet night. His amazement that the Lord is in this place is probably due to the fact that the spot seems very ordinary. There is nothing especially holy about it. Jacob is learning that God can make the most ordinary location holy by his presence; this is a truth that Moses will come to realize in his day (Exodus 3:5).


  1. He was afraid and said, “How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God; this is the gate of heaven.”

A wondrous fear kicks in. (The words afraid and awesome are derived from the same Hebrew word.) Jacob is stunned to have found himself in the presence of God—the God who has revealed something of his splendor to Jacob and has in addition spoken to him.

Many today express desire to have a face-to-face discussion with God. But Jacob’s experience is cautionary. The phrase the house of God is considered in Genesis 28:19, below.

  1. Anointing the Stone (vv. 18, 19)
  2. Early the next morning Jacob took the stone he had placed under his head and set it up as a pillar and poured oil on top of it.

Perhaps Jacob lies awake the rest of the night, reflecting on the contents of the dream, replaying it over and over in his mind. Any paralysis in that regard gives way to action when he arises early the next morning.

The stone he had placed under his head now serves a different purpose. The oil he pours on top of it serves to consecrate the place. Oil is often used in the Old Testament to set apart priests and kings. But it will also come to be used on objects (example: Exodus 30:22–29); the one we see here is the first such. A single stone may not constitute a pillar to our thinking today; but the important point is commemorating an event, not the size of the memorial.


  1. He called that place Bethel, though the city used to be called Luz.

Bethel means in Hebrew “house of God,” which reflects Jacob’s earlier declaration in verse 17. Ironically and sadly, Bethel later becomes the site where the first king of the northern kingdom of divided Israel builds one of his golden calves to keep the people from going to Jerusalem to worship at the temple there (1 Kings 12:28, 29). Archaeologists have not been able to determine with certainty the location.

III. Making a Vow

(Genesis 28:20–22)

  1. God’s Provision (vv. 20, 21a)

20, 21a. Then Jacob made a vow, saying, “If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father’s household,

Vows have not been seen prior to this point in Old Testament history. Regulations for making vows will later be included within the Law of Moses (Numbers 30:1–16). Jacob’s vow echoes the words God had spoken to him in his dream (Genesis 28:15).

  1. Jacob’s Pledge (vv. 21b, 22)

21b, 22a. “then the Lord will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God’s house,

Jacob’s vow should be viewed as different from vows that are sometimes made to God in the heat of a crisis or emergency. Jacob is making his vow based on what God has revealed to him.

One must also keep in mind that this vow is coming from someone who is just beginning to understand what trusting in God means. Jacob has a lengthy journey ahead of him, in terms of both miles and spiritual maturity. When Jacob promises then the Lord will be my God, he is pledging that at the end of his journey his personal relationship with the Lord will be far deeper than what it is now.


 22b. “and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth.”

Jacob’s additional promise to give you a tenth has a precedent in Genesis 14:17–20, where Abraham offered a tenth to Melchizedek. As with vows, tithing will also be covered in the Law of Moses (Numbers 18:21–29; Deuteronomy 14:22–29).

The tithe, or tenth, in the ancient world was usually a tax given to a ruler. The context shows that Jacob’s desire to give a tenth to God is in appreciation for God’s working through him.


  1. “Stopping” Stones

We have seen in our study today how something very common, a stone, became something very special for Jacob as he marked the place where God appeared to him. Years later, he stopped at the same place and used a stone yet again to remember God’s faithfulness to him through very turbulent years. The prophet Samuel used a stone to commemorate the Lord’s deliverance of his people during a battle. He called the stone “Ebenezer,” meaning in Hebrew “stone of help” (1 Samuel 7:12).

It is important for us to stop and mark times when the Lord has demonstrated his faithfulness to us or answered our prayers. Our memorial does not have to be a stone (it probably will not be), nor do we have to pour oil on it. It could be a card someone sent, a picture, a gift, a copy of an e-mail. In fact, any object, though as common as a stone, can serve the purpose—if it reminds us to stop at a specific time during our busy schedules and thank God for blessing us.

To pause and remember spiritual landmarks can be a source of great reassurance and encouragement to us. That is especially so when our own times become as turbulent as Jacob’s did.

Key Takeaway

Remember God’s faithfulness to you in tangible ways.

Why more than one translation?

Why more than one translation?

A number of observers have commented on, or rather asked about, our use of more than one translation on Sunday mornings, specifically, Why do I read from the KJV first and then the NLT or NIV? I would like to offer some understanding and, hopefully, wisdom on this matter…

I use two translations, primarily, to give us a well-rounded sense of the text for the morning. Many of you, my beloved, have English as a 2nd or 3rd language and so I use NLT and NIV because they are very easy to understand and, generally, are the most readily available translations outside the United States. Indeed, in Asia, the NIV and NLT are in a statistical tie for the dominant English translation of the Bible.

As for the KJV, I use it because it has stood the test of time, and I am not only referencing the fact that it has been the Bible of the English speaking world for over 400 years. 31 years ago, at the age of 5, I learned to read and my mother and grandmother taught me to read using phonics and the King James Bible. While it has not always been my main Bible, there has never been a point in my time as a disciple when I have not owned a King James Bible. It is familiar, an old friend if you will, who always leads me before the Throne of Grace. There are times when I struggle with depression and it is the KJV Psalms that I turn to for ministering to my soul.

KJV is also the Bible I heard in church for the first 25 years of my Christian life. It is the same for many of our members and for a large swath of Christianity, the KJV is what they envision when they hear the word Bible. It is timeless, beautiful, powerful, a salve for the hurting soul and the very life of our worship.

Lastly, I use 2 translations to minister more effectively to all who come to church. The true Gospel divides, as it should, separating the wheat from the tares and it does so well enough on its own; there is no need to have a particular translation of the Bible alienate someone. Christ, our Great Shepherd knows His sheep and we know well His call. Our desire is, always, to make sure that you hear the call and, ultimately, that is why we use more than one English translation. We  want you to hear the call of our Savior to come to Him and live, regardless of your familiarity with the English Language.


Grace to you my beloved.

Pastor Matt

Understanding Sin

Understanding Sin


Talking Snakes and Other Problems

Genesis 3:1

Now the serpent (Heb. Nacash which is translated serpent, snake, dragon) was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Has God said, ‘You shall not eat of any tree of the garden’?”

Eve finds herself confronted with the most dangerous words ever spoken, “yea hath God said…?” Neither before nor since have there been words with such potential to destroy and they come repeatedly but today they sound different. Today they sound like this: Would a loving God really send people to hell (did God really say the wages of sin is death?) Don’t all religions basically say the same thing (did God really say Jesus was the only way?) If you listen carefully, you can hear the subtle hiss behind the words as once again the serpent says, yea hath God said?

It would be great if I could say that Eve’s biggest problem was a talking snake; it wasn’t. The biggest problem she faced was that she erred, not knowing the word from the Lord. I do not mean to say that she did not know what God had spoken but she did not know the certainty or sufficiency of the word, which had been spoken.

Sin becomes her

Fully half or more of the scholars in the world will tell you that “the Fall” happened when Eve ate the forbidden fruit. I beg to differ. Look at verse three of chapter three. Eve adds to the word that had been spoken. “Neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.” Some will say that Adam embellished when he passed the Lord’s instruction on to Eve; I tend to doubt that. There is nothing in the text to indicate that God told only Adam of the prohibition against eating the fruit of that tree. However, adding to the word that God had spoken, though bad enough in itself is not what got Eve…

“The Fall” happened in verse six. She saw that it was good for food (lust of the eyes) and desirable to make one wise (lust of the flesh) she took it and ate (the pride of life). And there it is. The fall happened not in the eating of the fruit, no that was the symptom; it happened when Eve decided that the serpent knew better than God and that she wanted the fruit.


We must, then, deal with the following question: What is sin?


Sin, Original and Personal

Sin came into the world through the disobedience of our first parents, and death by sin. We believe that sin is of two kinds: original sin or depravity, and actual or personal sin.

Original sin, or depravity, is that corruption of the nature of all the offspring of Adam by reason of which everyone is very far gone from original righteousness or the pure state of our first parents at the time of their creation, is averse to God, is without spiritual life, and inclined to evil, and that continually. Our fallen nature continues with us until our glorification by Christ in the New Heaven and the New Earth.

Actual, or personal, sin is a voluntary violation of a known law of God by a morally responsible person (There no particular age set forth in Scripture for this moral responsibility. That being said, every individual is, at some point in their life accountable to God for their sins and are faced with the choice to respond or not.) It is therefore not to be confused with involuntary and inescapable shortcomings, infirmities, faults, mistakes, failures, or other deviations from the standard of perfect conduct that are the residual effects of the Fall.

(Original sin: Genesis 3; 6:5; Job 15:14; Psalm 51:5; Jeremiah 17:9-10; Mark 7:21-23; Romans 1:18-25; 5:12-14; 7:1-8:9; 1 Corinthians 3:1-4; Galatians 5:16-25; 1 John 1:7-8

Personal sin: Matthew 22:36-40 {with 1 John 3:4}; John 8:34- 36; 16:8-9; Romans 3:23; 6:15-23; 8:18-24; 14:23; 1 John 1:9- 2:4; 3:7-10)

This Doctrine of Original Sin leads us to discuss Total Depravity…

Let’s start with the obvious question, what is Total Depravity? Total depravity is a phrase that is used to summarize what the Bible teaches about the natural spiritual condition of fallen man (By that I mean the spiritual condition we are born in because of Original Sin).

Total Depravity, though often misunderstood, acknowledges that the Bible teaches that every part of man—the mind, will, emotions, and flesh are corrupted by sin. This is a result of the sin in Genesis 3:6. This is to say that sin affects all of our being—who we are and what we do. Sin has so penetrated us, going to the core of our being, so that everything is polluted by sin. Any good deeds that we do, any righteousness that we bring to God is like filthy rags. (Isaiah 64:6) To give you an idea of how disgusting sin is to God, how utterly repugnant it is, I will share with you what the Hebrew literally says; “filthy rags” is the cleaned up version for church. Literally, in the Hebrew, it says our righteousness is as a menstrual cloth. I realize that what I just said is shocking and it should be. We don’t take sin seriously enough; you don’t and I don’t and that’s just reality. None of us lives in constant awareness of just how awful our sin really is. Let’s move on…

In the bullet points below, we have summarized the Doctrine of Total Depravity

  • The heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9)
  • We are born dead in our transgressions and sins (Psalm 51:5, Psalm 58:3 and Ephesians 2:1-5)
  • We are held captive to a love for sin (John 3:19 and John 8:34)
  • There is no one who seeks for God (Romans 3:10-11)
  • Man loves the darkness (John 3:19)
  • Men do not understand the things of God (1 Corinthians 2:14)
  • As a result, men suppress the Truth of God in unrighteousness (Romans 1:18) and continue to live in sin.
  • Because of the totally depraved nature of man, he continues to live in sin and this sinful life actually seems right to him (Proverbs 14:12)
  • Depravity is so pervasive that, by nature, we reject the Message of the Gospel as foolish (1 Corinthians 1:18) and our minds, naturally do not submit to God because it is unable to do so. (Romans 8:7)

Paul summarizes Total Depravity this way (Romans 3:9-18)

  • No one is without sin
  • No one seeks after God
  • There is no one is good
  • Our speech is corrupted by sin
  • Man’s actions are corrupted by sin
  • And above all, man has no fear of God

God confronts the sin (Genesis 3:8–13)


Avoiding God (vv. 8–10)

vs 8. Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

God arrives at the customary meeting place, at the customary time but Adam and Eve are not there.


vs 9. But the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

God is not asking for information. He is inviting Adam and Eve to meet with Him. This is the 1st act of redemption recorded in the Bible- He seeks Adam and Eve who are hiding in shame and now separated from Him.


Even today, God still leaves open the invitation…We sing it in the hymn, Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling, calling “O sinner come home.” In Matthew’s Gospel Account, Jesus invites us, who are wearing and heavy laden, to come to Him


vs 10. He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”



Adam, within earshot of the Lord’s summons, does not simply come forth and say, “Here I am” (Genesis 22:1, 11; 46:2; Exodus 3:4; Isaiah 6:8). Instead, he explains his hiding in an attempt to excuse it.


Adam’s explanation is true but misleading. Yes, Adam had been naked (Genesis 2:25), and his fear is self-evident in the fact that he has attempted to hide. He offers an explanation of the latter as being due to the former, but the explanation doesn’t hold water as we realize that his nakedness hasn’t resulted in hiding before now. He is afraid because of his disobedience.


The Blame Game (vv. 11–13)

  1. And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”


Again, the questioning by the Lord does not indicate a lack of knowledge on his part. He knows what has happened. But he gives Adam a chance to confess his sin. He does this in a way that confronts Adam with the obvious as God says, in effect, “Let’s talk about your discomfort with being naked. You didn’t feel this way yesterday when we met. What changed? Did you eat the forbidden fruit? That would do it.”


  1. The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”


When confronted, Adam seems to realize there is no hiding his sin. Yet he does not say, “Yes, Lord, I ate the forbidden fruit, but I regret it deeply. Please forgive me.” Instead, Adam attempts to dodge his guilt by redirecting the blame. In one of the saddest moments of all Bible accounts, Adam points the finger of guilt in two directions. First he points that finger toward his beloved wife. Then in the same breath Adam indicts the Lord as well with the phrase the woman you put here with me. Adam’s admission I ate it comes with no acceptance of personal responsibility.


  1. Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.”


Following the model just set by her husband, the woman admits I ate, but attempts to shift full blame elsewhere: to the serpent. There is no repentance, no asking for forgiveness.



Judgment (Genesis 3:14–17)


On the Serpent (vv. 14, 15)

vs 14. 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.


God, knowing precisely what has taken place earlier at the tree, does not question the serpent. If the questioning of the two humans indicates opportunities to repent, we see no such opportunity being offered to the tempter. The Lord merely passes judgment and declares the penalty. The penalty reflects the categories of land creatures from Genesis 1:24, 25: livestock and wild animals and crawling-on-the-ground animals.


The apostle John identifies “that ancient serpent” as being “the devil, or Satan” himself (Revelation 12:9; 20:2). Because of his ability to speak and his intelligence (Genesis 3:1–5), he is more like the man and the woman than any other creature in the garden.

Whatever his form before God’s sentencing, the serpent is now to be included among the lowest and most despised of the land animals: the ground-crawlers. The description gives us the picture of a snake as we are familiar with today, that of a slithering, dust-eating belly-dragger. We assume this also includes the loss of speech and cunning intelligence.


vs 15a. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers;


This verse, sometimes called the protevangelium (meaning “first gospel”), is the first prophecy in the Bible about a future Savior. Until this story there has been no need for a Savior because there has been no sin. But now there is.


The pronouncement in this verse, given directly to the serpent, has three parts. First, there is a promise of enmity—fear and loathing—between the woman and her offspring (descendants) and the serpent and his offspring. This reflects a coming battle related to the serpent and his agenda to undermine God’s authority and entice humans to sin (compare John 8:44; Acts 13:10; 1 John 3:8; Revelation 12:17). This is spiritual warfare, the struggle for the hearts and souls of men and women (Ephesians 6:10–12).


vs 15b. “he will crush your head,

The coming Savior will strike some kind of blow to the serpent and his power. From this side of the cross, we realize that Jesus accomplished this when he rose from the dead and thereby defeated the power of death (compare Romans 16:20; 1 Corinthians 15:54–57;

Hebrews 2:14; Revelation 1:18).


vs 15c. “and you will strike his heel.”

The coming Messiah will be wounded by Satan’s efforts, but not defeated. He will experience death, but not remain dead (Revelation 1:18; 5:6).


  1. On Humanity (vv. 16, 17)


vs 16a. To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children.

God’s pronouncements continue, now with regard to difficulties that lie in the future of the woman in particular and that of women in general. Childbearing and childbirth will become unpleasant and painful, something all mothers today can verify.


vs 16b. “Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”

Furthermore, the woman will also be tied to her husband in ways that are not always joyful. She will fulfill her desire by marriage, but will also have a new master who will rule over her (compare 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 5:22). This dependency has not yet existed in the case of the first man and woman, but it will haunt humankind in the future. The Hebrew behind the translation rule over is translated “govern” in Genesis 1:18.


vs 17. To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life.”


The pronouncement to Adam is the strongest and longest of all. First, God states the basis for his judgment. Yes, the temptation had come through his wife, but he still bears responsibility for his sin (Here is the first and clearest articulation of male headship- the idea that God holds the man to a higher standard. As a consequence, the man will no longer have access to the blessed, perfect fertility of the garden. He will now have to scratch out a living from ground that is in some way cursed. Life will be difficult and tenuous.



III. Banishment (Genesis 3:20–24)


Provision (vv. 20, 21)

  1. Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living.

The story ends with some final arrangements. The woman needs a name, and Adam served as the namer-in-chief earlier (Genesis 2:19, 20). He gives her a hopeful name, one based on the word for living. Adam understands that Eve will produce babies and multiply the number of humans (1:28).


  1. The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them.

The garments of skin provided by God replace the flimsy and temporary fig-leaf apparel (Genesis 3:7). The author presents this as a gracious and loving act by God. He knows that Adam and Eve will need more than mere coverings for their nakedness, once outside the garden.


Expulsion (vv. 22–24)

  1. And the Lord God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.”


The author gives a divine detail at this juncture: the gist of God’s rationale for expelling the two from the garden. Things have changed, and sin has caused a loss of innocence for the man and his companion. God foresees that Adam has become like one of us. The “us” is not specified. Some see this as God’s addressing his heavenly council of angels (compare Job 1:6). Others see it as conversation between the three persons of the Trinity. Still others see it as the “plural of majesty” (see the commentary on Genesis 1:26 in lesson 3 on page 27).


To lose access to the tree of life signs the death warrant of Adam and Eve. Instead of living forever, they will age and eventually die. Another future feature of the New Jerusalem is year-round access to the tree of life, planted in or straddling the river of life (Revelation 22:2).


23, 24. So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.


The Lord takes extraordinary measures to prevent contact with the precious tree of life, posting a guard of heavenly beings known as cherubim (compare Ezekiel 10:20). Although stated as guarding the east side of the Garden of Eden, the implication is that the cherubim prevent any approach to the special tree. This raises a question: Why didn’t God just destroy the garden and its location? He did, during the flood.


Adopting New Curriculum

Adopting New Curriculum

As our ministries continue to grow, Exploring the Truth and Abounding Grace Baptist Church will be adopting a more uniform set of curricula, specifically, the Uniform Series from Standard Publishing/David C. Cook. “The Uniform Series is a 6-year plan for reading and studying the Bible. By participating in the Uniform Series, a believer will be given help in knowing the content of the Bible, understanding its message, and responding to that message by living a life of faith and love.” (

Below, you will find some questions that have been asked and that you may be asking yourself:

  • Will you, now, teach a pre-packaged curriculum or a pre-written sermon? No. As the pastor, I will still do the work of studying the Scriptures to bring you in-depth material. I will still incorporate lessons that I learn from other teachers.
  • Why change if you are not utilizing pre-packaged sermons? Teaching the Bible, especially as a bi-vocational pastor, presents some fairly unique challenges. By using Standard Lesson as a “map,” we can have a more effective journey through the Bible. Over a six-year period we will cover every book in the Bible but we will still have the flexibility to go deeper on various subjects as the need arises.
  • Will you still be teaching expositionally? Yes. We are not abandoning an expositional method for our pulpit. If anything, this change will add more discipline and structure to our lessons as we navigate the Bible and grow together.
  • Will you change Bible translations? We will continue to hear the New Living Translation from the pulpit, along with other translations as is helpful. You can expect to keep hearing NASB, ESV, KJV, and NIV as we go through our lessons.
  • Do I do anything different to prepare to receive from God’s Word with this new system? Nope. You still pray before coming to church. We will still have hymns and a responsive reading.
  • What about sin? Will the new system still talk about sin? Our view of sin does not change. We believe that all of mankind is polluted by sin and separated from God because of that sin. We believe that the only remedy for our sin is the substitutionary death of Jesus on the cross at Calvary. We do not, currently, pick out particular sins to “preach against” on Sunday but we deal with different sins as they come up in the text of Scripture; that will not change.
  • Is the Statement of Faith changing, too? Not at all. We still affirm the Baptist Faith and Message. All we are doing is adding a little more structure to help ensure that we are growing as disciples.


It is my sincere hope that this change will bless you and that you will continue to grow during your discipleship walk. Grace to you

Pastor Matt