Tuesday, 28 January 2014

LAMENTATIONS 1:12 - 2:22

v12-13: Walls Can Talk! We now hear from the city itself. The stones cry out in a heart rending cry for compassion. v11 bid the LORD to 'look and see', now all who pass by are called upon to do the same. What are we to see? Sorrow! Unparalleled and unprecedented sorrow. But other cities had been destroyed in war? No other city had enjoyed such favour from the Lord or been placed in a position of such prominence. The walls knew the Lord who had raised her up had cast her down in judgement, in fierce anger.
Some say we should not apply these words to the suffering of Christ for there has never been any suffering like his. True, but how can a believer not remember Isaiah 53:3-4 the 'man of sorrows' who 'carried our sorrows'? People measure the power of nuclear weapons as equivalent of so many Hiroshimas, Jesus' suffering was greater than 10,000 Jerusalem's - it was unmeasurable.
The City describes it was like to endure the Lord's anger - v13. God has become her enemy. He used the Babylonians to send fire as they literally burned the city down.
v14-15: The Burden Of Sin. Her sins are fashioned into a yoke that is placed around her neck. The burden weighs her down so that she becomes vulnerable to her enemies. A society decays from within before the enemy without can succeed. See Proverbs 5:22.
The mighty young men are summoned, not for a meal, but to be crushed as grapes trod in a wine-press - v15.
V16-19: All By Myself. No one came to the rescue and no one comes to comfort. We talk of a city 'buzzing' or 'rocking', here it weeps, desolate and defeated. Despised by her neighbours. Dirty.
All this is deserved. Devoid of it's young people. Deceived by her lovers. Dead are the priests and elders.
v18b Hear and see, look and learn. Be warned.
v20-22: Where Can We Run To When The Lord Is Against Us? There is no where to hide. There is no escape. No comfort and the enemy rejoices at our downfall. Run to the Lord - appeal to him. Look O LORD for I am in distress. See Psalm 77:1-10.
The lament closes with an appeal for judgement upon all evildoers and a final lament.
What do you think of this first lament?


Again in an acrostic form but with two letters in a different order. See how v1 = v22; v2 = v21; v3 = v20....v11-12.
v1-10: The LORD Has Done This!
v1-3: The Fall Of Jerusalem: He has...set under a cloud...cast down...swallowed up...broken down..brought down..cut-down... withdrawn his right hand burned ...consuming.
The chapter begins as before: Alas, Alas. The anger of the LORD is terrifying to behold. The splendour of Israel has fallen like Satan!
v4-5: The Hunter And His Prey: He has killed...poured out his fury.....swallowed up..laid in ruins...multiplied mourning and lamentation.
v6-7: Not Just A City But A Way Of Life Is Destroyed: The places where the praises of God were sung, festivals celebrated, where kings and priests walked.
v8-10: Fallen, Jerusalem Is Fallen: No walls, no ramparts, no gates, no kings, no princes, no law, no prophets, no sound. Psalm 11:3 "If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
v11-22: Weep For Your Children.
v11-13: For Such Belongs The KIngdom Of God: Charities, Missions, Reporters often focus on children. If we will not be moved by the plight of the children then what will move us? Jesus' rebuked his disciples over their attitude to children - Mark 10:13-14.
v14: Why We Must Resist Pluralism: There is not more than one truth. False prophets had a lot to answer for - See Jerm 6:14; 8:11.
v15-17: When Evil Men Rejoice: Were they standing in the same place that the Chief Priests would mock Jesus? Mark 15:29-32. They do not realise this is the Lord's work.
v18-19: When You Laugh...When You Cry Do Not Cry Alone: Once more we see the best (only) thing to do is to cry to the Lord.
v20-22: MISERY! v20 has three rhetorical questions. v21 is like the original picture on the Banner of Truth edition of 'The Plague of Plagues'. v23 Oh my children....

If you can read and meditate on this lament with out a tear in your eye then you haven't read it! 

Saturday, 25 January 2014


We are reading together Ted Donnelly's book on 'Heaven and Hell' published by the Banner of Truth.

You can hear Ted preach these messages on 


Or http://www.sermonaudio.com

I will be posting the questions for each study.


RGHP/4               Hebrews 1&2 - 'Such A Great Salvation '          PSC 26/1/14 

Hebrews 1v7 Of the angels he says, “He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.” v14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?
It was an angel who released Peter from Prison: Acts 12:1-19. Imagine hearing Peter preach about this angel, would you be disappointed?
My approach to these verses is not just what do they tell us about angels, but what do they reveal to us of the glory of Christ?
There are some 275 passages of scripture that refer to angels. They are mentioned in 17 OT books and 17 NT books (although not every reference refers to them as angels, sometimes they are called messengers, holy ones, God's host, his army, sons of the mighty, etc.
[1] God created them through the Son - Psalm 148:2 & v5. They have been alive since the beginning of creation. They do not grow old. They do not die. Nor do they marry or reproduce and have little angels - Mark 12:25
The Bible speaks of angels, cherubim, seraphim, and ark angels. Different spiritual beings with an order of different ranks among them.
[2] They are called 'holy angels' - Luke 9:26. They need to be holy because they serve a perfectly holy God. They have never sinned. They live a life of constant obedience. They always carry out the Lord's will. They do so willingly and gladly.
[3] Some sinned. Lead by Satan in a rebellion against God-2 Pet 2:4 & Jude 1:6. There is no salvation for the fallen angels. Jesus did not die to save them. God is a God of justice. Judgement is real. Believers will judge the angels: 1 Cor 6:3.
We who also rebelled and sinned. We who like them did not deserve a Saviour. They didn't get one. We did. How humbling is that!
[4] Those who resisted the temptation by Satan to rebel against God are called the elect angels -1 Tim 5:21. They are elect in the sovereignty of God.
[5] They are spiritual beings and usually invisible, but can take on an appearance so that men can see them - 2 Kings 6:17.
At times Angelic-fever manifests itself in the world and in the Church. Remember Satan can appear as an angel of light. Most believers never knowingly see an angel in this life.
[6] Angels have great powers - Daniel 6:22; Isaiah 37:36;2 Peter 2:11; 2 Thess 1:7. How many are there? Rev 5:11..myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands,
[7] These magnificent beings worship the Son. Isaiah saw Jesus' glory in Isaiah 6v1. When we worship, angels join with us in worship. They will do so throughout eternity.
v14 Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation? The author expects only one answer to this question: YES they are.
Some like Gabriel stand in the presence of God - Luke 1:19. No angel has ever been invited to sit on the throne. That is the honour and prerogative of the Son alone.
They are his servants - 1 Peter 3:22. He sends them to serve believers: They take great interest in what God is doing for believers 1 Peter 1:12
They were involved in the ministry of Jesus; In the announcement of his coming to Mary; In announcing his birth to the Shepherds; They helped him in his weakness after the period of his temptation in the wilderness - Mt 4:11 Again in the garden of Gethsemane: Lu 22:43. How did they do this? Again we no details are given. But they can and they did.
They announced his resurrection; They spoke to the Apostles after his Ascension; They greeted his return to heaven and his exaltation; They do his bidding; They will return with him Mt 25:31 And will gather all people before him; Mt 13:41,49 They will cast unrepentant sinners into hell - Luke 12:8; They rejoice over the repentance of sinners - Luke 15:10.
How do they serve us? As Jesus commands. They are part of the means by which he cares for us. [1] Spiritual battle - Eph 6:12; [2] For the most part invisible - Psalm 34:6-7; [3] As they strengthened Jesus in Gethsemane so they do us. Do we have a guardian angel? The Lord watches over us. Psalm 121. He sees and he may send his angels to serve us when he sees the need. Their mission is to minister to us.
You are an heir of salvation - 1 Co4 2:9 & Heb 11:16.

Saturday, 18 January 2014


RGHP/3                Hebrews 1&2 - 'Such A Great Salvation '          PSC 19/1/14
Reading: Hebrews 1v5-13
All of us need exhorting at times, and at other times we are in the position to give exhortation to others. But How? The book of Hebrews is a word of exhortation and can teach us how. First lesson is do it!
From Hebrews 1v5-14 we have scriptural exposition, he quotes a chain of OT passages to prove the superiority of the Son to the angels. He then applies this with exhortation, in this case a solemn appeal in 2v1-4; after which he returns to give more exposition, this time clarifying the Son's relationship to the angels.
The Western Film, 'The Magnificent Seven' had a sequel - 'THE RETURN OF THE SEVEN'. The writer to the Hebrews wrote a sequel to follow on from v4 quoting seven OT passages showing that the Son is indeed Superior to Angels. Who doubts this? Your friendly neighbourhood JW's for one.
SEVEN QUOTES, in three pairs, and a final climatic one from the OT that reveal The Son's Superiority to the Angels.
This passage is full of Christ. If you want to exhort someone remind them of Jesus. Otherwise our exhorting will be more like that of a life coach, or an after dinner business speaker. It takes the gospel, the message of Jesus Christ that is all about what God has done through him.
You can make the Bible to say anything you want unless you interpret scripture in the light of the whole Bible and it in the context.
[1] 1st quote: Psalm 2:7 is a Psalm about the Messiah. It speaks of a rebellion among earthly leaders against God and his anointed one. A rebellion that will be overthrown.
What does he mean by 'today' and begotten? There was a day when his Son-ship was seen in a new way. The day of his crucifixion, burial, resurrection, ascension and exaltation. That's the way Paul interprets this quote: Acts 13:33. See also Mark 1:11; and Acts 4v23-31;
[2] 2nd quote: 2 Samuel 7:14 a chapter in which the prophet Nathan brings David God's promise that he will be succeeded on the throne by his son who would build the house of God and that his royal throne would be established forever. This speaks of the Messiah. God never said anything like this to any angel!
[3] 3rd quote is form Psalm 97:7 a Psalm that proclaims the Lord reigns. v7 in the ESV reads: "worship him, all you gods!" The writer is quoting from the Greek translation of the OT.
Doesn't calling Jesus first born suggest he was made and not eternal? No, because it is not an expression of time but of priority, of rank, and of entitlement to a special inheritance. Psalm 89:27 in speaking about David says: "And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." First born can be a title of honour, showing rank, position, not the time of birth.
He is God. Why else would the angles be called upon to worship him? God does not share his glory with another - see Rev 22:8-9.
[4] 4th quote from Psalm 104:4 does not speak directly about Christ but has something to say about angels. The point he is making is that this is true for angels but not for the Son - he is their Lord!.
[5] The 5th quote is from Psalm 45:6-7: A Psalm in praise of the King and of his glorious bride, such exalted language it does not really fit any king of Israel and so these words were seen as addressed to the Messiah. The writer of Hebrews takes them literally. God speaking to God. With the coming of the Son in the person of Jesus Christ, these words now make sense: God the Father speaking to God the Son. Not two gods because with the Holy Spirit they are one God in three persons.
This king is opposed to all evil and unrighteousness. His rule is a just rule. Therefore God has anointed him, who is God.
[6] The 6th quote from Psalm 102:25-27 and emphasises the unchanging nature of the Son. He is eternal and unchanging:

[7] This 7th quote is from Psalm 110v1. A Psalm about the Messiah. It is the most widely quoted Psalm in the New Testament. One we will meet again in Hebrews on at least six occasions and alluded to in other places. The Son is enthroned eternally. 

Friday, 17 January 2014




Here is a link to a video by the British Museum on the 'Cyrus Cylinder'. It provides helpful background to the Book of Ezra. It lasts for 15 minutes. In the last four minutes he talks about the Bible's account. Well worth a look.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014



We begin our study of Jeremiah in Lamentations. This is where Jeremiah ends, in the destruction of the nation, it's capital Jerusalem, and the Temple. Jeremiah is the story of how it all came to this.
Lamentations is powerful poetry. Five poems. Four are acrostics. Chapters 1,2 & 4 are alphabetic acrostics: v1 begins with 'a', v2 with 'b', v3 with 'c' ....v22 'z' (there are only 22 letters in the Hebrew alphabet.) Chapter 3 is an acrostic where each group of three verses begins with the same letter at the start of each verse - aaa,bbb...zzz. Chapter 5 has 22 verses but is not an acrostic - perhaps indicating that things are falling apart.
Lamentations is a 'lament' - think of the music from Schindler's List. This book is read every year on the 9th Ab (in the Jewish calendar) in the Synagogue to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC and AD 70, and to remember other dreadful events such as the Holocaust.
Carl Trueman asks: "What can miserable Christians sing?". The Psalms contain many laments. You need look no further than Psalms 3,4,5,7,10, 12...22...74...79...137. The Psalms allow us to "express even the deepest agonies of the human soul in the context of worship." The book of Lamentations reminds us that life is not one long celebration or street party.
Lamentations does for us corporately what Job does individually. Both are Biblical 'theodicy'. Defined in the 'New Dictionary of Theology' as:
THEODICY (from the Greek theos, ‘God’, and the root dik, ‘just’,) seeks to ‘justify the ways of God to man’, showing that God is in the right and is glorious and worthy of praise despite contrary appearances. Theodicy asks how we can believe that God is both good and sovereign in face of the world’s evil .
This is why the most famous verse is Lamentations 3:23b 'great is your faithfulness'. Attention is drawn to this as it comes in the central and longest chapter.
Who wrote Lamentations? An eyewitness to the destruction of Jerusalem in 587 BC.
Jeremiah? We know that he wrote laments - 2 Chron 35:25 Jeremiah also uttered a lament for Josiah;
There are no clues in the text so we cannot be sure who wrote it.
v1-11 the poet speaks about Jerusalem; v12-22 Jerusalem speaks about herself. The whole chapter is full of the disaster and distress that has come to the city. Note the word all - in 14 of the verses, emphasises the totality of the disaster, with none to comfort: v2,9,16,17,21.
v1-11: The Desolate City Pictured as a Weeping Woman
v1-3: The utter distress and loneliness of Jerusalem:
v1 In Hebrew the opening word is 'alas' the title of the book. A princess who was great among the nations, now lonely: bereaved, childless, widowed, and enslaved.
v2 Weeping, comfort less, betrayed.
v3 The nation in exile....afflicted, hard-labour, restless and distressed
v4-6: Zion's former splendour is remembered:
v4 The roads mourn their loss of pilgrims, no one passes through her gates, no one seeks a priest, or a bride. The city suffers bitterly.
v5 The enemy prospers. The children are captives. Why? Why has all this happened? Where was the Lord? It was HE who brought this about for the multitude of her transgressions.
v6 The majesty has gone. Princess have become like thin, starving, frightened deer.
v7-9: Jerusalem desolation is a result of her sins:
v7 All that's left are the memories. No one came to the rescue. The enemy has won and gloats and mocks.
v8 Job did not suffer because of his sin, Jerusalem does. The world despises the Lord's people when they sin grievously.
v9a 'Buy now pay later'! How will you pay when the day of reckoning comes? Jerusalem gave the matter no thought. Again the fact she has no comforter is highlighted.
v9b The first direct appeal to the Lord. O LORD behold my affliction.
v10-11: The enemy that defiles and despises:
v10 The Temple is defiled. An argument for God to act - those whom you forbade to enter...
v11 Food is scarce and worth more than treasure. An appeal to the Lord to look and see.

Though he may be cross with us we may still appeal to him: v9&11.


RGHP/2               Hebrews 1&2 - 'Such A Great Salvation '      PSC 12/1/14 pm
Hebrews 1v2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. v3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, v4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Why did they need a new word from God? They were facing a situation that no other part of the bible addressed in a sufficient way. With a completed bible we have a word that sufficient for all of life.
When did he write? It is likely that the letter was written before AD 70 as it speaks of the continued offering of the OT sacrifices.
Where did they live? Suggestions include: Jerusalem; Alexandria; Antioch; Samaria; Colossae, Ephesus, Cyprus & Rome
Why did he write? They needed a word of exhortation. He begins like a treatise, proceeds like a sermon, and closes like a letter. They were contemplating giving up. Why? They had suffered for their faith - Heb 10:32-34 but not shed blood - Heb 12:4. but might do soon. To escape further persecution they could join with the Jews who were allowed to worship their God in their own way. God had accepted the OT saints - so why not do as they did?
We may be tempted to go back to how things were before we became Christians, or to live as some do today who are not Christians. There will be times in our lives when we too need a word of exhortation. A word to enable us to endure, to keep going. Stiff words of warning as to what will happen if we give up, and words of great encouragement to carry on. That's what we find in Hebrews.
When we are feeling like giving up, we not only need to hear that he has spoken by his Son. He gives us seven reasons why Jesus is God's Greatest Messenger. We could think of them as 'The Magnificent Seven'.
[1] JESUS IS 'HEIR' - whom he appointed the heir of all things,
Matthew 21:37-39; Genesis 17:5; Psalm 2:8 Jesus is heir. How much does he get? Everything! He is heir not just of the nations but of all things.
[2] JESUS IS 'CONTRACTOR' through whom also he created the world.
The term he uses here means not just our little planet, but all 'time and space'. John 1:3 & Cols 1:16
He who built this world for us to live in speaks to us the words of eternal life.
[3] JESUS IS 'REVEALER' v3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature,
He reveals both the glory God and the nature of God
His revelation of the glory of God is seen the transfiguration. Matthew 17:2 & John 1:14. FF Bruce - 'In Christ the glorious light of God shines into the hearts of men'
He reveals the nature of God in the way that the impression of the Queen's head on our coins reveals the queen. Jesus is the very stamp of God. 2 Cor 4:4 & Cols 1:15
[4] JESUS IS 'ATLAS' - and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
Atlas is from Greek Mythology. He was punished by Zeus by being made to hold the world on his back. Jesus is the true Atlas. He upholds not just the world but the entire universe. He does so willingly, not by virtue of his muscular strength, but by the word of his power. - Cols 1:17
[5] JESUS IS 'PURIFIER' After making purification for sins,
Domestos kills 99% of all known Germs. Jesus makes purification for 100% of all known and unknown sins. He makes us clean, he purifies us from all the pollution of sin - even that sin that haunts you. Heb 12:23 & 1 John 1:7
[6] JESUS IS 'MAJESTY' - he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,
We see Jesus in his ascended glory. The Queen sits on the throne, with Prince Philip next to her but not on THE THRONE. Jesus sits on the throne. That's how good a job he did in delivering the word of God. Nowhere else was fitting for him to sit.
[7] JESUS IS 'SUPERIOR' - v4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
Angels are a wonderful part of God's creation. Jesus is superior as he is the Son. This is the one through whom God has spoken. Shouldn't we believe what he says? Shouldn't we stick with his word even if all the world is calling us mad or wants to persecute us, even kill us.


RGHP/1              Hebrews 1&2 - 'Such A Great Salvation '         PSC 5/1/14 pm
v1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, v2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son,
Is there a God? What is he like? Can we know Him? What does he require of us? YES, affirms Hebrews, He has spoken. 'God is there and he is not silent!' We believe in Revelation. Without it we are lost in the dark, cast adrift on human ingenuity, prey to subjectivity (it feels right!). With revelation life is...well exciting! It is not pointless, God has spoken, he has plans and purposes for us. We can know him.
[1] Long ago - reminds me of Story Time' - Once Upon A Time....
Beautifully crafted sentence - the writer wants you to listen. Written to be read out loud, using alliterations, illustrations, exhortations, applications, warnings and appeals.
[2] at many times - not just at one time. He spoke to Adam, Eve, Cain, Noah, Abraham, Isaac & Jacob; Joseph, Moses, Samuel, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel...Malachi.
[3] and in many ways - (a) The Means - 'Face to face'; dreams, visions, inspiration; (b) The Manner - history, wisdom, proverbs, psalms, prophetic writings, law, etc,
[4] to our fathers - God's people of the past. A shared faith, not necessarily shared genes - Gals 3:7 it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham.
[5] by the prophets - 2 Peter 1:20-21. The OT is the inspired, infallible, inerrant, word of God.
Did you think God created us with the ability to communicate with one another and yet he cannot speak to us himself?
Do not neglect the OT. Explore those parts you have never traveled before. What plan do you have for reading the Scriptures?
[1] but - we sense something even greater is coming.
[2] in these last days - expectations rise even more for last days is an OT expression for the fulfillment of the promises of God given through the prophets.
Isaiah 2:2 It shall come to pass in the latter days.
Daniel 10:14 ..and came to make you understand what is to happen to your people in the latter days.
The coming of the word of God spoken by the Son marks the initiation of the last days, inaugurating the time of fulfillment.
Heb 9:26...he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages.
We are in the last days! Heb 10:25..encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.
[3] he has spoken to us by his Son, Revelation continues, and in an even greater way for it comes by His Son. Not just his words, but all his actions, his obedience, death, resurrection and ascension. Hebrews will help us understand how the OT relates to the NT. God has spoken by his Son. and everything changed - Heb 8:13; 10:1
The Son is the climax of God's revelation. It is all about Christ. After 13 letter all beginning Paul to...Hebrews opens with No Name, No Address & No Date! Unknown to us but known to his readers - Heb 13:18-19. They all knew Timothy - Heb 13:22
14 possible writers. Why not Paul? Heb 2:3 & Gal 1:11-12;
"The most important thing Hebrews tells us about the author, whoever he was, is that in the first decades of the Christian movement, another remarkable mind and heart besides Paul's was at work in interpreting the significance of the crucified and raised Messiah Jesus for the understanding of Scripture, of the world, and of human existence." (Luke Timothy Johnson)
He has a Pastors heart. His letter is Heb 13:22 a short 'word of exhortation' - see Acts 13:15; a sermon in a letter. We all need exhorting to keep going - Hebs 10:36a, 12:1b.
The identity of the preacher doesn't matter. George Whitfield said:
Let the name of Whitefield perish, but Christ be glorified.
Let my name die everywhere, let even my friends forget me, if by that means the cause of the blessed Jesus may be promoted.
But what is Calvin, or what is Luther? Let us look above names and parties; let Jesus be our all in all—So that He is preached. . . . I care not who is uppermost. I know my place . . . even to be the servant of all.
I am content to wait till the judgement day for the clearing up of my reputation; and after I am dead I desire no other epitaph than this, “Here lies G.W. What sort of man he was the great day will discover.”