oh, love of God

 

CHRISTIAN HYMN – ‘The Love of God’

Fredrick M. Lehman _1917

The love of God is greater far
Than tongue or pen can ever tell;
It goes beyond the highest star,
And reaches to the lowest hell;
The guilty pair, bowed down with care,
God gave His Son to win;
His erring child He reconciled,
And pardoned from his sin

 

Refrain:

Oh, love of God, how rich and pure!

How measureless and strong!

It shall forevermore endure—

The saints’ and angels’ song.

When years of time shall pass away,
And earthly thrones and kingdoms fall,
When men who here refuse to pray,
On rocks and hills and mountains call,
God’s love so sure, shall still endure,
All measureless and strong;
Redeeming grace to Adam’s race—
The saints’ and angels’ song. [Refrain]

 

Could we with ink the ocean fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade;
To write the love of God above
Would drain the ocean dry;
Nor could the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.
[Refrain]


Above is one of my favorite Christian hymns, ‘The Love of God’ written by Fredrik M. Lehman. Some years after Lehman wrote the hymn, he told a story of how he had found the third stanza of the hymn “penciled on the wall of a patient’s room in an insane asylum after he had been carried to his grave.” Lehman added, “We picked up a scrap of paper and, seated upon an empty lemon box, pushed against the wall with a stub pencil, added the (first) two stanzas and chorus of the song.” [1]

We are not told who the patient was or where he found the words. There are a couple of possibilities and quite the contrast.


The Quran

The Quran contains two verses strikingly similar to the 3rd stanza in Lehman’s hymn:

“Were the sea ink for the words of my Lord, the sea would surely fail before the words of my Lord fail.” (Sura 18, verse 109)
And
“Were the trees that are in the earth pens, were the sea ink with seven more seas to swell its tide, the words of God would not be spent.” (Sura 31, verse 27).

Muslims believe that the Quran was verbally revealed by God to Muhammad through the angel Gabriel (Jibril), gradually over a period of approximately 23 years, beginning on 22 December 609 CE when Muhammad was 40, and concluding in 632 CE, the year of his death. [2]


The Akdamut

There is another spiritual literary work that uses this similar wording.

The Akdamut is a Jewish writing that was written by Rabbi Meir ben Isaac Nehorai (c.1030-1096). The Akdamut (entire poem is 90 versus) was read on Shavuot as a celebrations of God’s gift of the Torah to the Jewish people. When the Torah was read publicly, the words were translated into Aramaic so the worshipers could better understand what had been read. Again, we are not sure if Rabbi Meir received the words from an earlier source.

For Shavuot-

Before reading the ten divine commands, O let me speak in awe two words, or three, Of the One who wrought the world and sustained it since time’s beginning.

At God’s command is infinite power, which words cannot define. Were all the skies parchment, and all the reeds pens, and all the oceans ink, and all who dwell on earth scribes, God’s grandeur could not be told.

Sovereign over the heavens above, God reigns supreme on earth below. God launched creation unaided and contains it in the bound of His law.

Without weariness, God created, only by divine will, uttered in a gentle sound. God wrought His works in six days, then established His glorious sovereignty over the life of the universe.

Myriads of angelic host serve God, Divine messengers that propel life’s destiny. They arise each morning to their calling.

The adoption of the Akdamut into the regular liturgy took some time; it is not mentioned as part of the Shavuos liturgy until the first decade of the 15th century and the earliest prayer book to contain it was published in 1557[3]


So the question is left unanswered… the origin of the 3rd stanza?

Now if one comes from the other, the origination would have to be the Quran, as it was written almost 400 years before Rabbi Mier was born. But this can be nothing more than speculation or coincidence at best.

Others might argue that the words scrawled on the wall of the insane asylum have no association with the Akdamut or the Quran, only an uncanny similarity.

One thing that cannot be argued, is the greatness of God’s love for humanity.

Consider such a love… “for God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”, the Creator, taking on flesh and blood so that He could die for His creation.  “He who knew no sin becoming sin that His creation might have His righteousness.” Oh, love of God!

I’ll bet, if it were left to you or I to write God’s love song, we would not have written in the same manner as He did. “For greater love hath no man than this, that he would lay down his life for a friend”.

My prayer for the reader is that you will find the peace of Yeshua , which can only be found in the love of God… “Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved!”

brother malachi 

[1] http://www.hymnary.org/text/the_love_of_god_is_greater_far

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quran

[3] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Akdamut

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the spirit of ‘herod the great’ is alive an well… today

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Artist: Matteo di Giovanni Title: Deutsch: Bethlehemitischer Kindermord

Italiano: La Strage degli Innocenti di Matteo di Giovanni è un quadro (tempera emulsionata su tavola, cm 231 x 234) che si trova a Napoli nel Museo di Capodimonte (inv. Q 38), nella Galleria Napoletana. Date: 1488

Wikimedia Commons -The work of art depicted in this image and the reproduction thereof are in the public domain worldwide. The reproduction is part of a collection of reproductions compiled by The Yorck Project. The compilation copyright is held by Zenodot Verlagsgesellschaft mbH and licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License


Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also. When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy. And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way. And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt: And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son. Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently enquired of the wise men. Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not. Matthew 2:7-18


After the birth of Jesus Christ, the scripture tells us that wise men (magi- Chaldean in origin, skillful in all wisdom and cunning in knowledge and understanding in science. They were interpreters of omens and dreams and students of astronomy), came from the East to worship Him that was born King of the Jews.

We are not sure how many of the wise men traveled from the East to locate the Christ Child, but three (gold, frankincense and myrrh) are traditionally associated  with the story, but I’m thinking three inconspicuous men from the East would not  have caused such a stir and noted by Herod.

After getting all the details of that first Christmas morn, Herod sent the wise men out to diligently seek and find the Christ Child so that he may follow in the steps of the wise men and worship Him as well. It is the spirit of Herod I would like for us to scrutinize in this post.

At face value, it seems that Herod is of a kindred spirit with the wise men. They had traveled hundreds of miles to find the Christ Child that they may bring Him gifts and worship Him, but Herod had different intentions. What is coming out of Herod’s  mouth does not validate the content of his heart. In fact God reveals the true intent of Herod’s heart when He instructs the magi in a dream that they should not return to Herod. He desired nothing less than to kill Jesus. Now I would like to interject at this time Herod’s intentions were political while Satan’s, the god of the world, were spiritual. The object of Satan was to “destroy the seed of the woman”. There is an uncanny similarity that is taking place all over the world today… a concerted effort to remove any mention of Jesus from society.

The first evidence of the anti-Christ spirit had political ramifications…

Herod heard that there was One that was born King of the Jews.

Now this was not just scuttlebutt, but the very prophetic word of God. Herod’s response to what he heard does not necessarily indicate that he believed the Word of God. The fact that these wise men had traversed from afar to find the King of kings and Lord of lords was quite alarming and he could not take a chance that another king might have been born. From a purely political perspective, Herod must find Him as well, but not for to worship, but to kill. Imagine, man attempting to kill God?

We can liken the undermining tactics of Herod to the political correctness of our day. At every turn we see a concerted effort to remove any hint of Christ from the public arena. You have heard it… Christmas trees, parades, and play have been reduced to simply holiday…., for the sake of separation of church and state. This is in fact a literal attempt to remove “CHRIST” from Christmas, hence from the American society.

Once Herod realized that the wise men had found the Messiah, worshipped Him, and returned into their own country another way, he became incensed and the  attack became vitriolic in nature…. the slaughter of innocent children. This egregious act is nothing short of a human being that is doing the work of his father, the devil. For the devil is a liar and a murder from the beginning.

This is the same level of attack that we seeing permeating throughout the anti-Christian world. Innocent Christians violently and brutally persecuted, and for what reason? Simply for naming the name of Christ. This is in essence the world’s futile attempt to remove any semblance of Christ from this world of darkness.

Darkness has no power. Just a little light invades darkness. In the gospel of John Christ told His disciples just before His offering “ 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. While ye have light, believe in the light, that ye may be the children of light.” John 12: 35-36

Pray for our brothers and sisters that are suffering for His cause. When the same measure of suffering comes to the church in America, we will need their prayers!

brother malachi

even Jesus had a bucket list

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The Bucket List is a 2007 American dramedy film directed by Rob Reiner, written by Justin Zackham, and starring Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. The main plot follows two terminally ill men (portrayed by Nicholson and Freeman) on their road trip with a wish list of things to do before they "kick the bucket". Wikipedia

It is my hope that after you have read this post, you will find that even Jesus has a bucket list.

Please prayerfully consider the gospels of Luke 18:3119:10; Matthew 20:29-34 and Mark 10: 46-52 before continuing in this article.

While studying in the gospel of Luke, I ran across the events that took place in Jericho while Jesus was in route to Jerusalem to be offered a sacrifice for the sin of the world. It became apparent to me that even Jesus had a ‘bucket list’.

In the gospel of Luke [18:31], Jesus tells His disciples “behold we go up to Jerusalem and all things that are written by the prophets concerning the son of man shall be accomplished”.

This was not a new message. On more than one occasion, Jesus had made His disciples aware of the fact that He was born to die, and the purpose of His life was “not to be ministered to, but to minister and give His life a ransom for many”, but His disciples did not understand the things which were spoken. This was a hard saying so they could not understand it.

When one studies the life and ministry of Jesus, it would be so easy to only hear His teaching and see the results of His miracles. When we see the events that transpired in route to Jerusalem we realize that the steps of Jesus are not coincidental and haphazard. but rather methodical in His promise to “seek and save that which is lost”. The events of Jericho reveal a personal agenda that Jesus was fulfilling as He would never pass this way again. Hence Bartimaeus and Zacchaeus become items on Jesus’ bucket list.

Jesus’ encounter with three blind men while passing through Jericho in route to Jerusalem are recorded in Matthew, Mark and Luke. Luke is the only gospel that mention His meeting with Zacchaeus. There are a few things to consider.

1. Matthew’s gospel mentions that there are two blind men sitting by the wayside as Jesus exits Jericho and that Jesus had compassion on both, and touched their eyes and immediately their eyes received sight.

2. Mark and Luke only mention one blind man and only one blind man healed.

3. The blind man in Mark’s gospel (like Matthew’s) states that the blind man is begging as Jesus exits Jericho while Luke’s gospel states the blind man is outside the city as they (Jesus and His disciples) drew nigh to Jericho.

Now there are skeptics out there that would attempt to discredit the validity of God’s word just because different details are presented in the different gospels. We could liken these same men those that have blinded eyes and harden hearts, so they cannot see with their eyes nor understand with their hearts and be converted. It is my hope that they will see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God,  as they consider the truths ever before them.

Now back to the subject… it is only in the gospel of Mark that the blind man outside of Jericho is ascribed with the title Bartimaeus (by interpretation is the son of Timaeus), No mention of, or who the second man was who sat begging with him and there is no name attached to the blind man who sat begging on the other side (entrance) of Jericho.

 

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Jesus healing blind Bartimaeus, by Johann Heinrich Stöver, 1861.
The only thing we know about all three men along the wayside, is that they were blind, poor and sat begging outside of Jericho. We learn from the gospel records that Jesus had compassion on all of them and all of them received their sight.

I wondered what if Jesus would have only healed Bartimaeus and not the other two blind men?

I also wondered why the Word of God would distinguish the person of Bartimaeus and not the other two blind men?

I think the answer is recorded in Mark’s account where we find the personal link to Bartimaeus. This gospel account says that Jesus made this statement to Bartimaeus… “Go thy way; thy faith hath made thee whole”. There is no record in any of the other gospels that Jesus made a similar statement to the ‘other blind men’… names unknown.

One might contend that all three that were blind and begging  believed that Jesus was the Christ, after all  they ALL cried out “thou son of David, have mercy on us”, and that this testimony of faith was confirmed in the restoration of their sight.

Just because someone is the recipient of a miraculous work does not guarantee that the same believed that Jesus was who He said He was. Were there not ten lepers that were healed but ONLY ONE returned to give glory to God. All ten lepers said “Jesus, Master have mercy on us”, and He did. In the case of these lepers, all ten were the recipients of the miraculous work, but a mighty work of God is not contingent, nor does it always validate the belief of the individual’s heart.

It the case of the blind men, they all cried “thou Son of David, have mercy” but only the words  of Bartimaeus were confirmed with the content of his heart… that Jesus was who He said He was… Jesus the Messiah.

So what can we glean from this story? Jesus was not just looking for some blind men to heal, but that He was “seeking to save that which was lost”… He was looking for Batimaeus. He was not just walking along the highways of Jericho and said oh, here are some blind men, I think I will heal them. No, He was specifically looking for Bartimaeus. It was the same scenario with Zacchaeus.

 

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Zacchaeus
by Niels Larsen Stevns
The gospel of Luke is the only record of Jesus’ encounter with Zacchaeus and takes place while Jesus and the disciples are passing through Jericho.

As we have already seen, He healed one blind man while drawing nigh unto Jericho and will heal two blind men, one being Bartimaeus, while exiting the city.

There is a similarity between Zacchaeus and Bartimaeus in that Zacchaeus could not see Jesus. It was not that Zacchaeus was blind he was short in stature and could not see for the throng of people that followed the Christ.

In order to overcome his physical limitations, he climbed a sycamore tree so he could see as The Christ passed through Jericho. Now there is nothing of value for an individual to see Jesus pass through the city while perched atop a tree. For many stood before the Christ and died not knowing any different. I am of the opinion that what gives power to this story, is not that Zacchaeus was looking for Jesus, but that Jesus was looking for him, because Zacchaeus was on His bucket list.

You’re probably saying, but it was Zacchaeus who ran ahead to climb a tree so that he could SEE Jesus as he passed by! But to remain true to His mission; “to seek and save the lost”, it was no coincidence my friend that Jesus looked up and SAW Zacchaeus and summoned him down that He might abide with him. 

In His final return to Jerusalem He opened the eyes of two men, Zacchaeus and Batimaeus. Bartimaeus had a physical and spiritual enlightening and  Zacchaeus the latter, but they both saw Him as “the Son of David”, and would never be the same again. When a man comes face to face with his sin he can but make one cry…

 “thou Son of David, have mercy on me!”

In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying “if any man thirst let him come unto me and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water”. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified). Many of the people therefore, when they heard this saying said, “of a truth this is the Prophet”.

Jesus Christ has the terminally ill (spiritually) at heart. He’s looking for them. The question is, has the terminally ill (one that is dead in  trespasses and sin) seen Him?

The bucket list of Christ is filled with water… life giving water… and if any man drink of this water, he shall never thirst again.

malachi

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    "Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me." Martin Niemoller

    Who will speak for those who can't speak for themselves?

    “Rescue those being led away to death; hold back those staggering toward slaughter. If you say, ‘But we knew nothing about this’, does not He who weighs the heart perceive it? Does not He who guards your life know it? Will not He repay each one according to what he has done?” Proverbs 24:11-12