Answers to Life's Questions

Sep 28, 2006 at 17:47 o\clock

Discouragement

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference:
Judges 6:1-32 

Discouragement

And when the men of the city arose early in the morning, behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down that was by it, and the second bullock was offered upon the altar that was built.

The book of Judges recounts the history of Israel during the centuries which followed the conquest of the land of Canaan. These were checkered years in Israel's history, which frequently saw relapses into idolatry. After each time Israel turned aside from the Lord, Jehovah would graciously raise up a judge, who was a military not a judicial leader, to bring His chosen people back to Him. The cycle of relapse, repentance, and restoration occurred frequently during these turbulent centuries.

The narrative of Judges 6 opens with a record of the renewed idolatry of Israel. This time judgment came from the Midianites who swept down through the plain of Jezreel, terrorizing Israel as far south as Gaza. They did not permanently occupy the land, but each harvest season they would arrive unexpectedly and plunder the harvest. What spoil they could not carry away they destroyed. So insecure were the Israelites that they lived in dens, caves, and strongholds to seek safety for their possessions and for themselves.

But suddenly things changed. An angel of the Lord appeared under the great oak by Ophrah, a little township on the southwestern border of the territory of Manasseh. There Gideon, the son of Joash, was beating out wheat with a stick. He did so secretly and with constant apprehension that a wild band of Midianite bedouins might sweep down on him, taking his grain and his life.

Gideon is typical of many believers today. Although the angel of the Lord called him a "mighty man of valor," Gideon's clandestine operations at his father's winepress did not exhibit great valor. For seven years his people had been oppressed by the enemy and this mighty warrior was despondent and discouraged. The angel of the Lord appeared unto him at his lowest ebb to encourage him.

Gideon was startled at first by this stranger, not certain who he was. When the angel proclaimed that the Lord was with him, Gideon's questioning response was, "If the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?" (Judges 6:13). Gideon believed that if Jehovah had not withdrawn Himself from Israel, the present Midianite calamity would never have occurred. As well, this mighty man of valor, like Moses of old, questioned why the Lord would choose him to deliver Israel. His family was poor in Manasseh and he was the least of his father's household. But in the midst of Gideon's concern the Lord God promised, "Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man."

Gideon was still not convinced. How did he know this person was really the angel of the Lord? Thus Gideon asked for a sign and the angel of the Lord flash-fired the flesh of a kid and unleavened cakes which Gideon had placed on a rock.

Having felt the hand of God upon his life and claiming the promise of divine presence and power, Gideon proceeded to be the delivering judge of Israel. At the command of the Lord he threw down the altar of Baal his father had built. In its place he built an altar unto Jehovah God. "And when the men of the city arose early in the morning behold, the altar of Baal was cast down, and the grove was cut down" (Judges 6:28). Who had done such a thing? The answer--Gideon, the son of Joash. The fearful men of the city stormed the house of Joash and demanded that he hand over his son to be slain. But the acts of an encouraged Gideon bred encouragement in the heart of his father as well. Joash challenged the men to allow Baal to plead for himself, if he truly was a god. It was becoming increasingly evident to the men of Ophrah that Baal was not a god to be feared, as was Jehovah.

All that was necessary for a discouraged people to rise up against their oppressors was for the heart of one man to be impressed with the presence and power of the Lord. How much the Gideons of the twentieth century need to recognize the still small voice of the Lord saying to them, "Surely I will be with thee." Be encouraged and let God do something courageous through you today.

MORNING HYMN
Take my life and let it be,
Consecrated, Lord, to Thee
Take my hands and let them move,
At the impulse of Thy love,
Take my feet and let them be,
Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice and let me sing,
Always, only, for my King.

Sep 26, 2006 at 23:59 o\clock

Separated to God

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference:
Exodus 8:1-32 

God's Separation

And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh; lo, he cometh forth to the water; and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Let My people go, that they may serve Me.

In a great many respects the righteous and unrighteous appear to be treated alike in this life. God "maketh His sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45). However, lest the righteous begin feeling sorry for themselves, we must not forget that a day of separation is coming when the Shepherd will divide His sheep from the goats (Matthew 25:31-33). The sun will not forever rise on the unrighteous.

But if we look more closely, even in this life God puts a division between His people and those of the world. Satan complained that God had made a hedge around Job. Solomon said that the Lord "is a shield to those who walk uprightly. He keepeth the paths of justice, and preserveth the way of His saints" (Proverbs 2:7-8).

A prime example of the Lord's protection for His people is the plagues of Egypt. After his death, there arose a king over Egypt who knew not Joseph. The Israelites became slaves with taskmasters set over them to afflict them. Moses was called of God to lead the Jews out of this land of bondage and into the promised land. But when Moses and Aaron confronted the Egyptian king about letting God's people go, the pharaoh only increased the burden on the Jews. The ruler hardened his heart and there began in Egypt a series of plagues the likes of which have not been seen since anywhere in the world.

First, their water supply turned to blood. Then frogs covered the land. Next, it was the plague of lice or gnats. After this the Lord said to Moses, "Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh" (Exodus 8:20). The man of God warned the Egyptian king that if he would not let God's people go, the land would become black with flies.

These were not ordinary houseflies but horseflies. They are described by the historian Philo and other travelers as a very severe scourge. More numerous and annoying than houseflies, these gadflies fasten themselves to the human body, especially around the edges of the eyelids, and suck blood from the agonized victim. They would swarm and fill the houses of the Egyptians causing severe pain and distress.

But here for the first time an additional promise is made. God said He would set apart the land of Goshen, where His people Israel dwelt, and absolutely no swarm of flies would enter there. A division between God's people and the people of Egypt was to be formed. In fact, this division meant redemption. God would redeem Israel and protect them from the devastating swarm.

The Bible clearly indicates the purpose of this division was "to the end thou mayest know that I am the Lord in the midst of the earth." God's setting apart of the land of Goshen was calculated to impress the worldly Egyptians that Jehovah alone is God. This was no trick of Egyptian magic; it was the direct intervention of God in human affairs. Jehovah caused a plague to fall on the unrighteous and peace to fall on the righteous.

Even today the Lord is separating a people for His name. The believer is set apart as a testimony to the world that Jehovah is God and He is in absolute control of the universe. God's people are to be a distinct and blessed group, in the world but not of it. We are set apart from the penalty of sin that plagues the world around us. Likewise we are set apart unto service for the God who saved us. Let's praise Him today for His grace in our behalf.

MORNING HYMN
O God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home!

Sep 22, 2006 at 17:59 o\clock

God's Victory

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference:
Joshua 5:13-6:16 

God's

And Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD.

As they had miraculously left the land of Egypt, Israel had now entered the land of Canaan by a similar miracle. All the people were safely across the swift waters of the Jordan. The army of Israel encamped at Gilgal. Having settled in the land, Joshua and the people were now ready for their first great test—the capture of the outpost of Jericho.

Since Jericho was the most secure stronghold in a string of fortifications defending the eastern front of Canaan, there were many anxious Israelite hearts the night before the conquest began. Joshua himself was pacing the ground at the edge of the Israeli encampment. While meditating on how to attack Jericho, a man appeared to Joshua with a sword drawn in his hand. Intrepidly Joshua asked, "Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?" (Joshua 5:13) The powerful figure identified himself as the Captain of the host of the Lord. This title, so often afterward applied to the Son of God, revealed to Joshua that this was none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Joshua must have known immediately the identity of this warrior for he fell on his face to the earth and worshiped Him.

Joshua 6:2 records, "And the LORD said unto Joshua, See, I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof, and the mighty men of valor." Although it was the night before the once-a-day treks around the city of Jericho, the Lord's promise to Joshua was, "I have given into thine hand Jericho, and the king thereof." Their lines of battle had not yet been drawn. The fighting had not yet begun. Yet the victory was certain. Even before the event occurred, God said "I have done it."

How can this be? How can God say the battle is won before it is begun? The answer is that God is above time. He has no futures nor pasts, only an eternal present. He always deals in what is for Him the "now." Frequently God uses the words "I will" and "I have" interchangeably.

Consider the similar experience of Abraham, recorded in Genesis 17. Abram was ninety-nine years old when the Lord God appeared to him and, as Joshua did, he fell on his face before the Lord. The Almighty God was about to make a covenant with Abraham that he would become the father of many nations. To Abraham God said, "Neither shall thy name anymore be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee" (Genesis 17:5). To a childless ninety-nine-year-old man, whose wife was nearly that age, God said, "A father of many nations have I made thee."

In quoting that promise in Romans 4:17, the Apostle Paul notes, "And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sarah's womb" (Romans 4:19). It did not matter that Sarah was well beyond the age of childbearing. God said He had made Abraham the father of many nations and we can count God's "wills" as God's "haves."

As twentieth century believers, the promises of God to us which have yet to be fulfilled are in the eternality of God already fulfilled. Thus the Lord Jesus promised, "I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again" (John 14:2-3). Although this is an event in history future, nevertheless, it is a promise as certain as if it had already been fulfilled. God calls things that are not yet as if they already are.

Hence, even though the battle plan was strange to Joshua, the defeat of the enemy was sure. Trusting the God of completed promises, "Joshua rose early in the morning, and the priests took up the ark of the LORD" (Joshua 6:12) and the children of Israel proceeded to the conquest of Jericho. Another great victory was won for the Lord God whose "haves" and "wills" are interchangeable.

MORNING HYMN
Be still, my soul: thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Sep 21, 2006 at 19:04 o\clock

Lapses in the Christian walk

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference:
Genesis 20:1-18 

A Lapse Into Sin

Therefore Abimelech rose early in the morning, and called all his servants, and told all these things in their ears: and the men were sore afraid.

Our folly and God's grace; if you see one, can the other be far behind? Frequent are the occasions when God's children foolishly mire themselves in difficulty only to have God graciously dig them out. Even the venerable Abraham found himself in this situation more than once.

After the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham departed from the groves of Mamre and journeyed south to the Negev. Here he dwelt between Kadesh and Shur, pitching his tent in Gerar. Upon arriving in the south country Abraham hatched a plan which he had tried unsuccessfully in Egypt some twenty years earlier. He instructed his wife, Sarah, to claim that she was his sister.

Because of the disastrous consequences which it previously had brought on the pharaoh of Egypt, it is almost inconceivable that Abraham would try this scheme again. Apparently the stern rebuke Abraham received from Pharaoh had by this time faded from his memory. Still, Abraham had only recently received God's assurance that Sarah was destined to be the mother of the promised seed. By spreading the half truth that she was his sister and therefore eligible for marriage, Abraham placed Sarah's virtue in serious jeopardy. This constituted a foolish lapse in Abraham's usually stellar performance as the friend of God.

The arrival of Abraham and Sarah brought a greeting from Abimelech, the warlike king of Gerar. Having heard that Sarah was unmarried, Abimelech immediately sent and brought her into his harem. This likely was done to ally himself with the rich nomad prince, Abraham. Sarah was by this time ninety years old and probably not the beautiful maid she used to be. Suddenly Abraham's lie had come back to haunt him once again.

The whole course of human history could have been different if it were not for God's intervention. Genesis 20:3 begins, "But God," words which usually indicate the turning point between man's foolishness and God's grace. Abraham had lied about his wife and she was now part of Abimelech's harem. Her virtue would undoubtedly be violated. But God warned the Philistine king in a dream that Sarah was already a man's wife. He also caused Abimelech to be afflicted with an illness which prevented him from coming near Sarah. Thus, miraculously and graciously, the mother of the chosen nation was kept from impurity, not because of the wisdom of Abraham, but because of the grace of God.

In the dream God revealed to Abimelech that, although he had done no wrong, nevertheless he must restore Sarah to her husband. If the king refused, his death and that of all his kingdom would ensue. This was enough to convince Abimelech. The king "rose early in the morning, and called all his servants," relaying the message to them (Genesis 20:8). Respecting the authority of the living God, Abimelech was anxious to heed the divine directives. The Philistine wasted no time in returning Sarah to her husband but not without a sharp rebuke to Abraham. Happy to have his wife back safe and sound, Abraham received the reprimand with a sigh of relief. In return he prayed to God and Abimelech was healed along with his wife and maidservants. The kingdom returned to normal.

Once again God's grace had prevailed over man's folly. The results could have been drastically different, however, had not God's providence overruled man's foolishness. Yet, how much anguish could have been spared both Abraham and Abimelech, both Sarah and the Philistine's wife, if there had not been that one lapse from righteousness. The knowledge that God's grace is waiting in the wings is insufficient grounds for contemplating foolish action. As Abraham finally learned, every friend of God must carefully guard against even slight lapses into the folly of sin (Romans 6:1-4).

MORNING HYMN
Sinners Jesus will receive;
Sound this word of grace to all
Who the heav'nly pathway leave,
All who linger, all who fall.

Sep 18, 2006 at 19:14 o\clock

Imitators

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference:
Exodus 7:1-25 

Satan's Imitators

Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning; lo, he goeth out unto the water; and thou shalt stand by the river's brink against he come; and the rod which was turned to a serpent shalt thou take in thine hand.

Of all the brother teams in the Old Testament, Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, Hophni and Phinehas, etc., perhaps none was so outstanding as Moses and Aaron. Together they were called upon to undertake the impossible dream—the exodus of Israel from Egypt. Jehovah had made Moses a god to Pharaoh and brother Aaron was his prophet. As a team they stood before the Egyptian king and demanded the release of God's people Israel.

During the new kingdom period the power of Pharaoh was unsurpassed among contemporary nations. At times his kingdom extended as far as the Euphrates River. For Moses and Aaron to appear at the royal Egyptian court demanding that the people of Israel be set free was a challenge to Pharaoh's power. From the start the king's attitude was one of arrogant defiance. Pharaoh said, "Who is the LORD, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I know not the LORD, neither will I let Israel go"(Exodus 5:2).

But the Lord had forewarned Moses and Aaron of Pharaoh's attitude, informing them that when the king asked for a miracle to prove God's power they should cast Aaron's rod to the ground and it would become a serpent. When Pharaoh questioned them, Aaron obeyed God and, as God had promised, the rod miraculously became a serpent. However, much to the surprise of Moses and Aaron, the king of Egypt called upon his wise men sorcerers to do the same and their rods too became serpents.

Apparently these Egyptian magicians knew the secret of paralyzing a snake by applying pressure on the back of the neck. This would make the serpent become rigid and the pompous Egyptian sorcerers would stroll along the streets using the paralyzed snakes as walking sticks. When they cast the snake to the ground, releasing the pressure, the snake would begin to crawl. Capturing the snake was a simple matter of grabbing it by the back of the neck, renewing the pressure, and making the serpent rigid again.

Such was the case in the contest between Moses and Aaron and the magicians of Pharaoh's court. However, as the Egyptians imitated the miracle of God they did not have opportunity to grab the serpents by the back of the neck and reapply the pressure. Before they could do so Aaron's rod-serpent swallowed them up.

Rather than be stunned by the defeat of his magicians, Pharaoh's heart was hardened. Thus the Lord instructed Moses to "Get thee unto Pharaoh in the morning" and to demand that the people of Israel be released (Exodus 7:15). Early the next morning the confrontation took place and as a result of Pharaoh's refusal the Nile River, long worshiped by the Egyptians, turned to blood. Thus began the great plagues of Egypt.

Although in the first two plagues God allowed the Egyptian magicians to imitate His miracles, by the third one they had run out of tricks. Candidly they had to admit to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God" (Exodus 8:19). This did not end imitations of God's power, however, for Satan is the great imitator of God. He has been imitating God through the centuries, and many have been deceived by some clever counterfeits which seem to be of God, but actually are of the devil.

Today the world is deluged with deception. Satan is on a rampage imitating the acts of God. This is why Christians are cautioned to "Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God; because many false prophets are gone out into the world" (1 John 4:1). Moses and Aaron were not fooled or intimidated by the imitation miracles of the Egyptian magicians. Believers today must not be fooled or intimidated by the power of Satan, "because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world" (1 John 4:4).

MORNING HYMN
Thy Holy Spirit, Lord, alone,
Can turn our hearts from sin;
His pow'r alone can sanctify,
And keep us pure within.

Sep 16, 2006 at 19:20 o\clock

Thinking of Others

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning
Scripture Reference:
Genesis 19:15-29 

Thinking of Others

And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD.

SELFISHNESS is innate to man's being. Human philosophy says, “Look out for number one for if you don't, no one else will.” The question of the first murderer, “Am I my brother's keeper?” is still being asked in society today. This is indeed unfortunate. When we live self-centered lives we are denied the joy of delighting in others.

Abraham was a man little given to such selfishness. When he and nephew Lot came to a parting of the ways, Abraham gave his kin first pick of the land. Looking eastward on the fertile plain of the Jordan, Lot fell prey to temptation and chose the valley thick with vegetation. Abraham then withdrew to the oaks of Mamre, near Hebron, in the center of the south hill country. Willing to obey the stern inward call of duty, Abraham quietly received the less desirable terrain.

The picturesque valley of the lower Jordan was dotted with five “cities of the plain.” They were Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboim, and Bela, which was later renamed Zoar. Sodom, the chief city of this pentapolis, was so wicked that a particularly abnormal sin still bears its name. Here the worldly Lot chose to settle and even become prominent. The men of this city were especially wicked and sinned exceedingly before the Lord. How it must have grieved the genuinely pious Abraham to see his nephew choose these surroundings.

In the course of time three angelic guests stopped at the door of Abraham's tent in Mamre. Abraham greeted them hospitably and made ready a feast. As the men prepared to leave, Abraham accompanied them a short distance toward Sodom. Two of the strangers went on ahead while the third, who was actually the Lord, lingered awhile with Abraham. It was then that Abraham received the crushing news. The Lord had come with His two angels to destroy the wicked cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. The sins of these two cities were so heinous and abundant that God could no longer tolerate their existence. They must be destroyed.

Immediately Abraham thought of Lot. He began to intercede with the Lord in Lot's behalf. After a typically oriental bargaining session, Abraham pled with the Lord not to destroy Sodom if ten righteous people could be found in it. The Lord agreed. However, there could not be found ten righteous citizens in this horribly wicked city and its destruction was certain. The angels prompted Lot to take his wife and two daughters and escape to the mountains. Lot fled, not to the mountains, but to the city of Zoar and as soon as he arrived the Lord rained fire and brimstone down upon Sodom and Gomorrah.

This fierce fire and brimstone that fell from Heaven not only destroyed the cities and their inhabitants but even the soil around them. The entire valley was burned out and utterly destroyed. It is likely that either the Dead Sea originated with this catastrophic event or that the existing sea was greatly enlarged to the south by engulfing this destroyed valley.

And what of Abraham? Is he resting comfortably in his tent while all this is going on? Not at all. Genesis 19:27 records, “And Abraham got up early in the morning” and viewed the smoke rising from the plain. He was genuinely interested in the welfare of Lot and his family and eagerly awaited news of them. The foolish nephew was spared from this devastation because God remembered the concern of Abraham.

Lot had slapped Abraham in the face by choosing the best land for himself. He had broken the heart of God's friend by settling in a center of wickedness. Abraham had every right to care nothing about Lot's welfare, yet he did care. He arose early, unselfishly, for he had learned not to seek his own but the good of others (1 Corinthians 10:24; Philippians 2:4). If you want to be happy today, why not spend the day helping others? Be interested in them; pray for them; bring good cheer to them. It will do a lot for you, too.

MORNING HYMN
Others, Lord, yes, others,
Let this my motto be.
Help me to live for others,
That I might live like Thee.

Sep 15, 2006 at 17:50 o\clock

Hidden Hammer

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
Job 7:1-21 

The Hidden Hammer

And why dost thou not pardon my transgression, and take away mine iniquity? for now shall I sleep in the dust; and thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be.

The bottom had fallen out of Job's life. All his possessions had been destroyed. His family had been slaughtered, and any hope for a posterity was gone. God had delivered Job into Satan's hand. Those associated with Job could not understand why this had happened. Even his wife counseled him to "curse God and die" (Job 2:9). But Job was fully convinced that if God had permitted this evil to come to him, the evil would ultimately turn to good.

Job's friend Eliphaz expressed surprise that Job, who in the past comforted others, was now giving way to sorrow. His friend wrongly judged that if Job had nothing to be ashamed of, he had no reason to be sorrowful. Theologically he understood misfortune always to be the result of sin. Therefore there was no other explanation than that Job had sinned and the route of escape was not a bitter complaint but a bold confession of sin to receive the fruit of blessing. Understandably Job was offended at the speech of his friend. Eliphaz had magnified Job's complaint and minimized his condition. Just think of it. Life had collapsed around him and Job could think of no specific cause for that. He knew Eliphaz was wrong in his assessment of the situation.

In chapter 7 Job is philosophical about the brevity of life. He knows that the days of man upon the earth are numbered. He likens them to the cloud that is consumed and vanishes away. Since life is so brief and his life is now so filled with anguish, why does Jehovah even bother with Job? Why does He reveal Himself to Job every morning and try him every moment (Job 7:18)? He thought that in his condition, life is worth less than death, and Job desires that "thou shalt seek me in the morning, but I shall not be" (Job 7:21). The blows that God permitted Satan to land on Job appear to have been merciless. His life had been upright and just. How could God allow this to happen?

Samuel Chadwick relates that when he was a boy, he often went to the local blacksmith shop to watch the smithy work. He remembers how the smith would take a large piece of iron and place it in the fire with tongs and then work the bellows to make it white-hot. Then after removing the piece of iron from the fire and laying it upon the anvil, he would take a small hammer and begin to tap on the iron. No sooner would the smith tap the iron with the small hammer than a big man on the other side of the anvil would come crashing down hard with a large sledge hammer, hitting the iron on the exact same spot that the blacksmith had just tapped. Inquisitively, Chadwick once commented to the blacksmith, "You don't do much good with that little hammer, do you?" The gentle blacksmith laughed and replied, "No, my boy, but I show that big fellow where to place the blow."

When the bottom fell out of Job's life and his friends came to comfort him, none of them was aware of all that had transpired in heaven before these calamities began. None of them knew that God had given Satan permission to afflict Job. They were totally unaware that while Satan was pounding away at Job with his unholy sledge hammer, each blow was being carefully guided by a loving Heavenly Father. God would show Satan where he could deliver his blows on Job, just as the blacksmith defined for his large friend where he could hit the iron with his sledge hammer.

If you are today experiencing unjust criticism, undue persecution, or sorrow because love is not returned, please remember that as a child of God you can never be afflicted beyond what God, your loving Heavenly Father, gives him permission to do. God is still in control; and though friends may unrighteously condemn us, as long as we live a life clean before Him, we need not be concerned about what Satan can do to us.

MORNING HYMN
Day by day and with each passing moment,
Strength I find to meet my trials here;
Trusting in my Father's wise bestowment,
I've no cause for worry or for fear,
He whose heart is kind beyond all measure
Gives unto each day what He deems best,
Lovingly, its part of pain and pleasure,
Mingling toil with peace and rest.

Sep 14, 2006 at 01:05 o\clock

Ingredients for Service

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
Exodus 34:1-35 

Ingredients for Service

And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai and present thyself there to Me in the top of the mount.

The man who bows the lowest in the presence of God stands the straightest in the presence of sin. If this truth was known by anyone in the Old Testament, it was known by Moses. Time after time he had to stand straight and tall in the face of Israel's sin. Once even while Moses was communing with God on the top of Sinai, Israel was brewing a pot of sin. Upon his descent from the mount, viewing the golden calf and the licentious behavior of Israel, Moses' righteous indignation caused him to cast the tables of God's Law to the ground, crushing them to pieces (Exodus 32:19). The people were rebuked for their sin, 3,000 men were capitally punished, Moses interceded for the lives of the rest and the golden calf crisis was over.

But there would be more sin, and the tables of stone had to be replaced. Thus the Lord issued Moses another summons to Sinai with these instructions: "And be ready in the morning, and come up in the morning unto mount Sinai, and present thyself there to Me in the top of the mount" (Exodus 34:2). Note the words, "be ready," "come up," and "present thyself." Moses' renewed call to service contained these three essential ingredients found in every call to service that God issues.

Be ready. The man God uses is the man who is ready, willing, and able to be used. If we are not ready, God will bypass us for someone who is; and we will miss the blessing that could have been ours. The apostle Paul was a man who was ready. In Romans 1:15 he was "ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also." With Paul, preaching was a passion: "For I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus" (Acts 21:13). After a long life of service to his Lord, Paul exclaimed, "For I am now ready to be offered, and the time of my departure is at hand. I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith" (2 Timothy 4:6-7). Paul was ready to preach, ready to suffer, even ready to die in the service of the Lord.

Come up. We cannot be of service to God until we first come to Him in salvation. But Jehovah's call to Moses was not to salvation, but to communion and service. Once the Lord has called us to be saved, He then calls us to "come and dine" (John 21:12). In other words, as Moses, we are called to fellowship with the Lord. We "come up" to the Lord God in prayer. Like salvation, prayer and communion with God precede service (Ephesians 6:18-20).

Present thyself. The final ingredient in preparing for service to God and standing in the face of sin is to present ourselves to Him. Paul begged the Roman believers to "present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service" (Romans 12:1). Being ready to serve God is necessary. Coming up to God in prayer is likewise necessary in preparing for useful service. But unless we are willing to present ourselves to God body, mind, and soul as Moses did, there is little chance that He will use us or that we will successfully stand straight and tall in the presence of sin.

When the call of God came, Moses prepared a second pair of stone tablets for the law of God and "rose up early in the morning, and went up unto Mount Sinai, as the LORD had commanded him" (Exodus 34:4). Moses was ready for service, early in the morning, for he knew that there was a lot of sin yet to be dealt with in the camp of Israel. Moses must stand straight and tall in the presence of that sin, as each believer must. Are you ready to rise early each morning and come to God in prayer, presenting yourself in service to Him? Your day will go much better if you are.

MORNING HYMN
Stand up, stand up for Jesus,
Ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner,
It must not suffer loss:
From vict'ry unto vict'ry
His army shall He lead,
Till ev'ry foe is vanquished,
And Christ is Lord indeed.

Sep 12, 2006 at 18:55 o\clock

Standing despite Attacks

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
Job 1:1-22 

Standing Tall

And it was so, when the days of their feasting were gone about, that Job sent and sanctified them, and rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all: for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually.

The ability to meet affliction with an uncompromising endurance and an unflinching respect for God is one of the marks of true Christian character. Certainly Job is the classic example of a man who met affliction in such a way.

The author begins the book of Job by describing a beautiful pastoral scene in which Job, a respected and honored oriental sheik, or prince, was residing in the land of Uz. Job was a man of extreme wealth, possessing a flock of 7,000 sheep, 3,000 camels, large tracts of land and an affectionate family of seven sons and three daughters.

But more than this, Job was a man of extreme piety. The first verse of the book describes him as "perfect and upright, and one that feared God, and eschewed evil." So concerned was this man about keeping himself and his family right before his God that he "rose up early in the morning, and offered burnt offerings according to the number of them all; for Job said, It may be that my sons have sinned, and cursed God in their hearts. Thus did Job continually" (Job 1:5). Day after day he met God early, bringing sacrifices to the Almighty in the event that he or any of his family had secretly sinned against God.

The rest of this chapter's verses, comprising scene two in the first act of Job's life, read like a horror story. Here Satan entered this beautiful country scene and disrupted the simple pastoral life of Job and his family. Notice these features of scene two.

1. Satan's report (verse 6). The day came when the sons of God, presumably the angels, were to bring a report of their activities to Jehovah. Satan also came among them.

2. Satan's activity (verse 7). When Jehovah asked Satan why he had come and from where he had come, Lucifer answered the Lord, "From going to and fro in the earth, and from walking up and down in it." Satan's activity was a never-ending search for opportunities to disrupt the program of God.

3. Satan's problem (verse 8). It was Jehovah who suggested to Satan, "Hast thou considered My servant Job?" Here Satan would encounter a man who was perfect and upright, one who hated every kind of evil that Satan had placed in his path.

4. Satan's accusation (verses 10-11). The devil had a ready answer for why Job had remained upright. God had put a hedge around him so that everything Job did prospered. Surely if God would remove that hedge, Satan reasoned, Job certainly would curse God to His face.

5. Satan's restriction (verse 12). Jehovah permitted Lucifer to touch all that Job possessed but placed one restriction upon him, "Only upon himself put not forth shine hand." Although God does not always make this temporal restriction with regard to us today, he certainly makes it an eternal restriction.

6. Satan's attacks (verses 13-19). The devil came to menace Job. Like waves of enemy soldiers the reports kept coming to Job until he learned that he had lost all.

7. Satan's failure (verses 20-22). Job arose and reacted with characteristic remorse. And yet, rather than sin and foolishly charge God, Job stood tall and simply stated, "Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD" (Job 1:21).

Do not be discouraged when you face the attacks of the wicked one. These attacks are only temporal, and our loving God will have the final word. You may not always understand the ways of God, but you must always trust them, as did Job.

MORNING HYMN
Why should I feel discouraged,
Why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely
And long for Heav'n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?
My constant Friend is He;
His eye is on the sparrow,
And I know He watches me.

Sep 11, 2006 at 17:50 o\clock

Relying on God

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
Psalm 127:1-5 

Relying on God

It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so He giveth His beloved sleep.

The theme of this delightful little psalm is the folly of human effort apart from God. Anything we attempt in life is doomed to failure unless we rely on the power of God. The psalmist shows us this is true in four aspects of human life: social (verse la); civic (verse 1b); business (verse 2); and domestic (verses 3-5). In each of these there is an unmistakable emphasis on the necessity for reliance on God.

"Except the LORD build the house, they labour in vain that build it." Regardless if it is a private dwelling or the house of God, it is useless to undertake building unless we seek the prosperity of God. The psalmist does not say that unless the Lord consents that the house should be built, he says unless the Lord builds the house. We supply the materials; He does the work in our social lives.

"Except the LORD keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain." Turning from social to civic life, the psalmist knows the unseen watchman of every city is Jehovah Himself. The constant vigilance of a sentinel is without reward if he watches alone. It does little good for us to stand watch unless the Lord stands with us. Not to set a watch when the enemy is at hand is foolish, but to set a watch in our own strength is just as foolish.

"It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows." Here the psalmist does not counsel us against rising early. His intent is to show us that nothing is accomplished by rising early or staying up late if all we do is fret about our problems. Here too we must have absolute dependence upon God.

Finally, the psalmist turns his attention to reliance on God in domestic matters. He begins with a statement about children that is diametrically opposed to the philosophy of the world today. In a day in which children are frequently viewed as a bother, an infringement on personal freedom, and are therefore aborted before they are born, the psalmist counters, "Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD." Children come to us from God and are another means of building a house. In fact, in the Hebrew, the word for son (ben) and daughter (bath) both come from the same root word for house (beth). Although building a house is akin to building sons and daughters, building sons and daughters is more important than building a house around them.

A preacher once was entertained by a couple who had two teenage boys. When he entered the house, he noticed immediately a sense of warmth. He also noticed that the living room carpet was very tattered. Before he left, the mother related that one day several boys from the neighborhood were having a good time in her living room. Perhaps they were being a little too rough, and she asked them to play elsewhere. They responded, "But where will we go?" Nodding to one of them she asked, "How about your place?" "Not a chance," replied the boy. "We're not allowed to invite kids into our house." Others questioned gave similar replies. The mother soon sensed that her home was the only one where the boys felt free to come and have fun. From then on they were always welcome.

While the mother did not allow the children to be disrespectful to her property, she nonetheless recognized that the rug was only property, but that children were an heritage from the Lord. She knew if she were to raise a family she would have to show a lot of love and rely on the Lord.

To whatever endeavor God calls you today, whether it be social, civic, business, or domestic, reliance on Him is a prerequisite to success. You cannot build a house fruitfully without the labor of God. You cannot watch a city successfully without the protection of God. You cannot engage in business tirelessly without the strength of God. You cannot raise children lovingly without the wisdom of God. All human activity is but folly unless you rely upon God for success. Ask Him to make you successful today.

MORNING HYMN
If God build not the house, and lay
The groundwork sure whoever build,
It cannot stand one stormy day.
If God be not the city's shield,
If He be not their bars and wall,
In vain is watchtower; men, and all.

Sep 7, 2006 at 18:03 o\clock

The Providence of God

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
1 Samuel 29 

God's Providence

Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart.

When we live lives that are pleasing before the Lord, godly lives, righteous lives, we may always be assured that no matter where our steps take us, we have been led there by the Lord God Himself. Indeed, "The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD" (Psalm 37:23).

By this time in his life the madness of King Saul had become so notable that he had nearly destroyed himself and his nation as well. His hatred for David and his jealousy of this young Bethlehemite caused David to be resigned to a life of wandering. Once David learned that the Philistines were besieging the city of Keilah, he immediately hurried to rescue the city. Successful in his rescue, he drove off the enemy and scattered them, making this for a short time his headquarters (1 Samuel 23:1-6).

However, whenever Saul learned of the whereabouts of David, he was sure to be persistent in his pursuit of him; again David was forced to flee (1 Samuel 23:7-14). Although during his wanderings David attracted to his side 600 soldiers in support of his cause, nevertheless these were days of hardship and grief for David. Finally he had to leave the kingdom entirely and seek refuge among his former enemies, the Philistines.

Although the enemy clearly remembered that David slew the giant Goliath, now he was an enemy of Israel's king; and so the Philistines made an unlikely alliance with David and his men. With the consent of Achish, king of Gath, David made his headquarters at Ziklag for more than a year (1 Samuel 27:1-7). Because he supported the Philistine king in raids on the tribes to the south of the wilderness of Shur (1 Samuel 27:8-12), David gained the respect and friendship of Achish. Things were fine as long as the Philistines were fighting someone other than the Israelites. But that situation was about to change.

The Philistine armies assembled at Aphek to encounter the Israelites in Jezreel. David was now in a desperately ticklish situation. He was with the armies of the Philistines, arrayed in preparation for battle against his own people, Israel. What would he do? How would God get him out of this jam?

David didn't have to wait long for a resolution to the problem. The princes of the Philistines began to wonder whether or not they could trust David fighting against his own people. If he were to win the favor of King Saul again, what better way than to kill the Philistines. Therefore, Achish commanded, "Wherefore now rise up early in the morning with thy master's servants that are come with thee: and as soon as ye be up early in the morning, and have light, depart" (1 Samuel 29:10). Once again, through the suspicions of the Philistines, God had spared David from fighting against his own people.

Rowland V. Bingham, founder of the Sudan Interior Mission, was once seriously injured in a terrible automobile accident. Rushed to the hospital in critical condition, he did not regain consciousness until the next day. When he asked the nurse what he was doing there, she replied, "Don't try to talk now, just rest. You have been in an accident."

"Accident? Accident?" exclaimed Dr. Bingham. "There are no accidents in the life of the Christian. This is just an incident in God's perfect leading." Our attitude toward the Lord's leading our steps ought to be the same. When we live righteously before Him, free from known sin, there are no accidents in our lives, only incidents in His perfect leading. Let Him lead you today.

MORNING HYMN
In shady, green pastures, so rich and so sweet,
God leads His dear children along,
Where the water's cool flow bathes the weary one's feet,
God leads His dear children along.
Some thru the waters, some thru the flood,
Some thru the fire, but all thru the blood;
Some thru great sorrow, but God gives a song,
In the night season and all the day long.

Sep 6, 2006 at 19:26 o\clock

Hidden Resources

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
2 Samuel 23:1-17 

Hidden Resources

And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.

David had returned to his capital city, Jerusalem. All serious challenges to his authority were now behind him. He was about to die at age 70, having ruled Judah for 7 years and as king over all Israel for another 33 years.

Indeed David was a very remarkable man. He had great ability, great insight, great grace. As a soldier he was a mighty man of valor. As a poet he was the "sweet psalmist of Israel." He was decisive in politics and chivalrous in war. But he was as human as he was great. Perhaps it's that quality about David that makes the man so lovable to us. David had boundless love for Jehovah and an unshakable faith and loyalty to Him. While he frequently stumbled and fell, he always knew how to get hold of God, ask forgiveness and go on for God. He had a true hunger to know the will of God and do it.

Second Samuel 23:1 claims to record the last words of David. Although these are the last literary or poetic words, David's final dying words are not recorded until 1 Kings 2. David describes the kind of man God would have as king of Israel. "He that ruleth over men must be just" (2 Samuel 23:3). One who would be king, president, prime minister or any leader can never assume he or she possesses the qualifications for these important tasks unless that person has a sense of justice that is more than human. Human justice views all men as created equal. Divine justice views all men as created equal before God, a God with whom all men have to do. This is why the next clause is so important. A godly leader is one "ruling in the fear of God."

When Jethro counseled Moses about organizing Israel, he said, "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens" (Exodus 18:21). As important as it is that a ruler be just, the capability to be just arises only out of a fear of God. God would have no one rule Israel who did not fear Him.

How can we draw upon the resource of the fear of God in order to be just to all men? We must depend upon our hidden resources. All nature depends on hidden resources. Rivers, deep and wide, have their sources in the snowcapped mountains. Great trees are only as strong as the part you cannot see, their root system. The entire earth draws upon the water and minerals under the ground, their hidden resources. A ruler in America, in Israel or anywhere in the world will only be as great as his fear of God, and his fear of God will only be as deep as his hidden resources in God. This is why choosing a nation's leader must go beyond partisan politics, beyond basic morality, beyond simple decency.

David was keenly aware that he had not always exhibited the fear of God, the kind of fear that is pure, pristine, and clear. He describes the just man who fears God as one who "shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds" (2 Samuel 23:4). This kind of clearness and brightness comes only to a man who seeks the Lord, his hidden resource, early in the morning, before he begins to make the decisions of his day. Let's pray that God will give us that kind of ruler.

MORNING HYMN
Take time to be holy,
Speak oft with thy Lord;
Abide in Him always
And feed on His Word.
Make friends of God's children,
Help those who are weak
Forgetting in nothing
His blessing to seek.

Sep 5, 2006 at 05:49 o\clock

Proper Response

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
1 Samuel 25:1-38 

Vengeance

And Abigail came to Nabal; and, behold, he held a feast in his house, like the feast of a king and Nabal's heart was merry within him, for he was very drunken. Wherefore she told him nothing, less or more, until the morning light.

One of the most obnoxious men in the Bible is Nabal. Nabal was a wealthy shepherd who had many flocks and servants. It appears that David and his men showed kindness to Nabal's servants and gave protection to them. Subsequently David's men needed provision and refreshment and he sent them to Nabal. But when David's men arrived at Carmel, Nabal lashed out at them, ridiculed them, and refused any help to them. The Bible describes Nabal as a churlish man "and evil in his doings." This simply means that he was hard to deal with, a difficult person to get along with. Not recognizing the anointing of God on David, Nabal demanded, "Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse?" He ranked David among the common mavericks of the day. Nabal sent David's men away empty-handed. When the men returned to David and reported to him how offensively Nabal had acted and how unfriendly he had been, David's anger was piqued.

Four hundred of David's warriors were prepared to march against Nabal and retaliate for his unfriendly attitude. This would have engaged David in a sinful tirade against a sinful tyrant. Had it not been for the intervention of God through the actions of the quick-thinking wife of Nabal, David would undoubtedly have shed innocent blood that day. But Abigail, Nabal's wife, intercepted the irate David, brought gifts to him and persuaded him not to take vengeance against her husband. She was God's messenger to God's man and David said to Abigail, "Blessed be the LORD God of Israel, which sent thee this day to meet me; and blessed be thy advice, and blessed be thou, which hast kept me this day from coming to shed blood, and from avenging myself with mine own hand." Nabal's attitude was unforgivable, but David's reaction was equally unforgivable. He would heed Abigail's advice, the same advice Paul gave to the Roman believers when he said, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto [God's] wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, saith the Lord" (Romans 12:19).

When Abigail returned to tell her husband what she had done, she wisely decided to tell him nothing until the morning light since he was filled with wine (1 Samuel 25:36). In the morning (verse 37) when Nabal was sober, Abigail related to him what she had done to spare his life and the reputation of David. At that point the churlish man apparently had a stroke and 10 days later the Lord took his life. Abigail's wisdom permitted God to return the wickedness of Nabal upon his own head and still preserve David from making a foolish mistake.

General Robert E. Lee was asked what he thought of one of his fellow officers in the Confederate Army. This officer had made many derogatory remarks about General Lee. Lee rated him as a fine officer and good soldier. Someone questioned, saying, "General, I guess you don't know what he's been saying about you." Lee responded, "I know, but I was asked my opinion of him, not his opinion of me!"

Although we may be slandered or maligned by others, we are not at liberty to do anything but show the love of the Lord Jesus unto them. Perhaps today you have an antagonist spreading falsehood about you. Do not plan to avenge the wrong you have been done; give place to God's wrath instead and speak kindly of that antagonist. Then and then alone will a difficult situation bring glory to the name of God.

MORNING HYMN

Open my eyes, that I may see
Glimpses of truth Thou hast for me;
Place in my hands the wonderful key
That shall unclasp and set me free.
Silently now I wait for Thee,
Ready, my God, Thy will to see;
Open my eyes illumine me,
Spirit divine!

Sep 4, 2006 at 04:14 o\clock

Guarding the Heart

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
Exodus 32:1-35 

The Deceitful Heart

And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink and rose up to play.

The prophet Jeremiah observed that, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it?" (Jeremiah 17:9). The Bible gives more than ample evidence to support Jeremiah's observation. In fact, so does this morning's newspaper.

A prime example of how innately wicked the human heart is can be seen in the unfaithfulness of Israel at Mount Sinai. When the people of God encamped at the foot of the mountain, Moses ascended the slopes of Sinai and received the Law. After the people acknowledged the covenant of God and answered with one voice, "All the words which the LORD hath said will we do" (Exodus 24:3), Moses again ascended the mount of God. This time he received God's instruction in the ordinances of divine worship.

Moses' sojourn on the mountain was much longer than anyone expected. After nearly six weeks passed without his return, the people grew impatient and fearful. Had they lost their leader? How could Moses survive on the mountain without food? And what about their God? He was on the mountain too, in the pillar of a cloud that led them from Egypt. Had He forsaken them?

Israel had come face to face with a real test of faith, a test they failed miserably. As long as Moses was with the Israelites, he could encourage them to "live by faith and not by sight." But now he was gone and Israel's faith rapidly evaporated. The desperate wickedness of their hearts came to the fore. The Israelites frantically begged Aaron to make gods for them, gods that would go before them as the Everlasting God had done in the cloud. Immediately Aaron instructed the people to take off their golden earrings, which were then melted down and fashioned into an idolatrous golden calf. Aaron proclaimed that on the next day they would have a feast to the Lord.

The Israelites were like a child with a new toy, barely sleeping that night because of excitement. "And they rose up early on the morrow, and offered burnt offerings and brought peace offerings" (Exodus 32:6). The people then sat down to eat and drink.

But the Bible says that after that they "rose up to play." This may sound innocent enough, but the "play" in which the people of God engaged was hardly the harmless kind. They fell into the pattern of sensuality that accompanies pagan worship. Idol worship nearly always ended in an orgy so disgusting that it cannot be described. So boisterous was the Israelite orgy that when Moses and Joshua returned from the mount, Joshua assumed that the delirious shouts of the people were noises of war. But the people of God were caught up in a wild frenzy that was both licentious and idolatrous. It was the sight of this frenzy that angered Moses and caused him to cast the tables of stone to the ground, breaking them.

Exodus 32:25 enhances our understanding of the depths to which the Israelites had fallen. Not only were the people worshipping an idol, engaged in a wild orgy, and worked into a frenzy by licentious dancing, they were naked as well. Their nakedness was not only offensive to Moses but it was an affront to God as well.

There is scarcely a depth to which Satan cannot drag desperately wicked human hearts, even the hearts of God's chosen people. New Testament believers must never be deceived into thinking that we have sufficient strength in ourselves to keep us from similar depths of sin. Only the Spirit of God can prevent our wicked hearts from dragging us into sin. Today let us pray as the Lord Jesus taught us, "And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil" (Matthew 6:13).

MORNING HYMN
Search me, O God, and know my heart today;
Try me, O Saviour, know my thoughts, I pray;
See if there be some wicked way in me:
Cleanse me from ev'ry sin, and set me free.

Sep 1, 2006 at 18:26 o\clock

Mysterious Ways

Author: Woodrow Kroll
Source: Early in the Morning 2
Scripture Reference:
Numbers 22:1-35 

Mysterious Ways

Balaam rose up in the morning, and said unto the princes of Balak, Get you into your land: for the LORD refuseth to give me leave to go with you.

The famous English hymnist William Cowper once wrote, "God moves in mysterious ways His wonders to perform." Nowhere in the pages of Scripture is this more evident than in the story of Balak, the king of Moab, and Balaam, the false prophet of Pethor in Mesopotamia.

With the conquest of the Amorites the people of Israel neared their goal, the promised land. They descended into the valley of Jordan, opposite Jericho, on the plains of Moab. Such a bold move by Israel aroused the Moabites. Seeing that Israel was too strong for him in the field, Moabite king Balak made a confederacy with the sheiks of Midian. But even the combined strength of Moab and Midian was of doubtful value in the face of mighty Israel. It was evident to Balak that supernatural help must be sought.

The prophet Balaam, son of Beor, was one of those who still retained some knowledge of the true God. It is obvious, however, that he practiced the more questionable arts of divination as well and in fact believed that Jehovah was simply one of many gods. He found it quite to his advantage to believe in all the gods of oriental society. The emissaries from Balak came to Balaam with a strange request. There was a people come out of Egypt who covered the face of the earth. They were a threat to the very existence of Moab, or so the Moabite king believed. If Balaam would curse the intruders, the emissaries were empowered to give him the rewards of divination.

Balaam consulted the God of Heaven as to the advisability of cursing the people who had come out of Egypt. The answer of Jehovah left no room for variant interpretations. "Thou shalt not go with them: thou shalt not curse the people: for they are blessed" (Numbers 22:12). Balaam rose up in the morning and reported to the princes of Balak that Jehovah had directly forbidden him to curse their enemy Israel.

When the princes returned to Balak with this unexpected news, the Moabite king was undaunted. He sent to Balaam more numerous and more honorable envoys. The king promised the prophet that he would promote him to very great honor and give him any desire of his heart. The greed of Balaam was too much for his loyalty to the God of Heaven, and consequently he wavered in his stand against cursing Israel. Instead of resting confidently on the clear word of the Lord, Balaam hedged on that clarity in order to feed his lustful desire for fame and honor. Thus God gave him his desire and delivered him to the destruction that he courted. Despite the evident will of God to the contrary, Balaam rose up in the morning, and saddled his ass, and went with the princes of Moab (Numbers 22:21).

This Old Testament account features the miraculous happening of a dumb animal speaking to his master in order that the plan of God might be fulfilled. But an even more mysterious way in which God moved to perform His wonders was that He chose a false prophet, one who thought more of himself than he did of God, to advance one of the greatest prophecies of the Old Testament. It was Balaam the son of Beor who brought the message of Christ in the book of Numbers. His messianic prophecy was, "I shall see Him, but not now: I shall behold Him, but not nigh: there shall come a Star out of Jacob and a Sceptre shall rise out of Israel, and shall smite the corners of Moab, and destroy all the children of Sheth" (Numbers 24:17).

No greater prophecy concerning the messianic kingdom can be found anywhere in Scripture and, in the mysterious plan of God, this prophecy came from the lips of a self-seeking prophet. We may never fully be able to understand the methods or motives of God, but we are not required to understand them, simply to trust them.

MORNING HYMN
Praise to the Lord
Who o'er all things so wondrously reigneth,
Shelters thee under
His wings, yea, so gently sustaineth!
Hast thou not seen
All that is needful hath been
Granted in what He ordaineth?