“O Lord, by these things men live,” by Louis A. Dole

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“O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live.” – Isaiah 38:16

Readings

Isaiah 38 · Revelation 8:1-4, 9-13 · Psalm 34

Sermon

In order to understand what the things are by which men live we must know the conditions under which these words were spoken. Hezekiah was one of the good and faithful kings of Judah, Israel’s southern kingdom. The northern kingdom had fallen hopelessly into idolatry, and had been carried captive to Assyria, never to return; and the southern kingdom, the kingdom of Judah, had been almost as unfaithful. Under Ahaz, Hezekiah’s father, the worship of the Lord had largely given place to the worship of idols, and the holy temple had become defiled. Hezekiah destroyed the idols. He even destroyed the brazen serpent, which had been preserved for seven hundred years or from the time of Israeli’s sojourn in the wilderness, because the people were now making an idol of that. He restored and rededicated the polluted temple, and reestablished worship of the one God. He smote the Philistines, Israel’s ancient foe. He did other great works and brought back to the nation something of its ancient glory and power. But in the midst of this achievement and at the height of his power he was smitten with disease, and the prophet Isaiah, his counsellor and friend, was sent to him by the Lord to tell him that he would not recover, but would die.

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“Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And the servants of the king of Syria said unto him, Their gods are gods of the hills; therefore they were stronger than we; but let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” – 1 Kings 20:23

Readings

1 Kings 20:1-34 · Revelation 14:1-12 · Psalm 95

Sermon

Benhadad king of Syria was making war on Ahab king of Israel. After the reign of Solomon, when the northern tribes revolted and set up a separate government, these northern tribes, called Israel, were continually at war with Syria – at times paying tribute and at times gaining independence, but, as we know, finally taken captive by the Assyrians, never to return.

We recall that in the Scriptures Babylon represents the love of self, the love of ruling over others, the lust of dominion; and Syria – or Assyria, the longer form of the name – represents pride in one’s own intellectual powers, pride of self-intelligence, the belief that men are able of themselves to determine what is true or false, good or bad.

When Naaman the Syrian came to Elisha to be healed of his leprosy and was told to go wash in Jordan, he replied, “Are not Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? May I not wash in them and be clean?” The Abana and Pharpar, rivers of Damascus the capital city of Syria, which seemed to Naaman better than all the waters of Israel, represent streams of natural thought – the judging of right by worldly standards rather than by the Lord’s teachings and commandments, represented by the Jordan.

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“And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And I will send hornets before thee, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite, from before thee.
“I will not drive them out from before thee in one year; lest the land become desolate, and the beast of the field multiply against thee.
“By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.” – Exodus 23:28-30

Readings

Exodus 23:2-33 · Luke 2:34-52 · Psalm 30

Sermon

We were created solely for one purpose: that we may be of service to others, thus serving the Lord and preparing ourselves for heaven.

The worldly man is wholly occupied with the affairs of this world. He, in his short-sighted vision, thinks that this world is all there is, that he lives here as animals do and then dies. His short life of vexation and joy, of failure and success is then over, and that is the end. Almost everyone, if taxed with this notion in these terms, would deny that it is a true concept of his views; and yet, in the general run of life, the great majority of people – perhaps ninety-nine out of a hundred – are very accurately measured by this description. How few there really are who act from the knowledge and living conviction that every day on earth is given us to prepare for eternal life in heaven.

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“Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant,” by Louis A. Dole

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“In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah began Hoshea the son of Elah to reign in Samaria over Israel nine years.
“And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord… Against him came up Shalmaneser king of Assyria; and Hoshea became his servant, and gave him presents.” – 2 Kings 17:1-3

Readings

2 Kings 17:1-18 · Matthew 7:13-29 · Psalm 26

Sermon

Hoshea was the last king of Israel. He had reigned three years when Shalmaneser king of Assyria came against him and put him under tribute. For only a few years the tribute was paid, for Hoshea entered into a league with the king of Egypt and then ceased paying the tribute. This brought the Assyrian army into the country and the land was laid waste and Samaria besieged. For three years the city withstood the siege. It fell at last, and Hoshea was put in prison. Nothing more is said of him. Hoshea had conspired against his predecessor and slain him, but his conspiracy against Assyria led to his own downfall and destruction. Then Israel was led into captivity, scattered through various places in Assyria, and the kingdom of Israel was brought to its end. Thus was fulfilled the warning given centuries before that if the law of the Lord was not observed, their cities would be laid waste, the land would be desolated, and the people scattered among the heathen (Leviticus 26:31-34). Later Judah was to suffer for similar reasons.

Today in many colleges and universities the Bible is studied merely from the historical standpoint and judged accordingly. But – differently from other histories – the history of the Jews was so ordered that it might portray spiritual truths.

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“And, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And Elisha prayed, and said, Lord, I pray thee, open his eyes, that he may see. And the Lord opened the eyes of the young man; and he saw: and, behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” – 2 Kings 6:17

Readings

2 Kings 6:8-23 · Matthew 26:47-56 · Psalm 55:17-23

Sermon

This text is a suitable one for the period preceding Easter. It directs the mind to Easter themes, such as the existence of the soul within the body, and the reality of the spiritual world. It shows also relations of helpfulness between those in the spiritual world and men upon the earth, which exist through angelic ministry. And it testifies to the unseen but providential care which the Lord exercises over those who trust wisely in Him.

The Syrians, being at war with Israel, sought to destroy Israel’s king by encamping near where he was likely to pass and then falling upon him unawares. The Lord, through the prophet Elisha, warned Israel of the Syrian camp; so the king of Israel continually escaped. Then the Syrian king learns that it is due to Elisha that Israel is informed against him, and he resolves to capture Elisha. With such a purpose he invests Dothan. Here we have illustrated a condition which exists today. As long as Elisha counseled Israel, the attempts of the Syrian army were futile. To succeed against Israel the prophet must be destroyed. The prophet spoke the Word of the Lord. He stands therefore for the Lord. Israel represents those who follow the Lord by obeying His Word, or those of the Lord’s Church. As long as the church is instructed, enlightened, and guided by the Word, it is preserved unhurt from its enemies.

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“The Syrians had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And the Syrians… had brought away captive out of the land of Israel a little maid; and she waited on Naaman’s wife.
“And she said unto her mistress, Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! for he would recover him of his leprosy.” – 2 Kings 5:2, 3

Readings

2 Kings 5:1-14 · Luke 17:1-21 · Psalm 119:1-16

Sermon

As a “captain of the host” Naaman stood close to his master, the king of Syria. It is recorded that he was a great man with his master because by him Jehovah “had given deliverance unto Syria.” But Naaman was a leper.

Leprosy, one of the most dreaded of diseases, was common at this time. The word means “smiting” because it was supposed that one upon whom it came was smitten by God. The leper was supposed to be the special object of the Lord’s wrath. Leprosy was thought to be hereditary to the fourth generation, and we might note the relation of this to the commandment which says “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me.”

All diseases have their primary origin in spiritual disorders – although the disorder may not be in the particular person who contracts the disease – in mental states, in evil desires and false thoughts. These things, as the writings tell us, “destroy the interiors of man on the destruction of which the exteriors suffer, and draw man into disease, and thus into death” (A.C. 5712).

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“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt,” by Louis A. Dole

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“For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
“But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” – Deuteronomy 11:10, 11

Readings

Deuteronomy 11:1-12 · Mark 4:21-41 · Psalm 135

Sermon

“We want a decent country to live in” would express the desires and ideals of a great many people; but perhaps we should not be very far wrong if we affirmed that most of these people have little idea of how they are going to get it or even of what they mean by it. They may have in mind economic security, a good job with good pay, or they may want a world in which they will be free from troubles and from interference with their own lives, and free from war.

In our text two countries are contrasted. They are strikingly different. Egypt is a flat country, fertile, with an even climate. It has no precious metals and little variety in fruits and animals. It receives no rain from heaven, its fruitfulness depending upon the inundations of its great river, the Nile. In Bible times its people worshiped the calf. Palestine, on the other hand, is a land of hills and valleys, with a complex climate ranging from intense heat at Jericho 1300 feet below sea level to the wintry snows of Mount Hermon 10,000 feet above the sea level. It produces a variety of summer and winter fruits and vegetables, of the precious metals and stones, and is made fertile by rain, by brooks and rivers and the melting snows: “a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills… a land where thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack anything in it.”

The Egyptian ideal was that of external comfort and wealth. Israel prospered there under Joseph and did not wish to return to the Holy Land. But their long-continued life there resulted in bondage, and Moses was raised up to lead them out. The words “Out of Egypt have I called my son” express a great blessing. Abraham went down into Egypt and became rich in flocks. Our Lord was carried down into Egypt and there found protection from Herod. Egypt could both shelter and enslave. She could nourish, she could teach, and yet her wealth and knowledge could never wholly satisfy. And this is the reason given in the Word itself: “Now the Egyptians are men, and not God; and their horses flesh, and not spirit.” Therein is its limitation. Man has higher possibilities than the merely natural.

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“And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down,” by Louis A. Dole

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“And he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.” – 1 Kings 18:30

Readings

1 Kings 18:17-30 · Luke 10:25-42 · Psalm 84

Sermon

All religion centers on the belief in God. However varied the concepts of God have been in the course of the ages with the different peoples, however coarse and obscure the ideas of His will and requirements have been, yet from the beginning religion has consisted of the recognition of an almighty God and the learning and fulfillment of His Divine will, as it was understood at different times. People sometimes use the word “religion” to apply to any theory of conduct which they have chosen to adopt; they say, “That is my religion.” It is true that the word itself means a “binding back,” and that we may be bound back from doing many things we want to do by worldly considerations of various kinds, but such a binding back does not change the heart – in fact, it is more than likely to create in the heart self-conceit and the pride of self-intelligence. Though in the preceding epochs and eras the Lord could not reveal Himself in the fullness of His Divine Humanity, though for a long period of time the external state of mankind made it necessary to have worship clothed with the veil of external forms which were not even understood, yet religion has always been the inmost of man and has always served as the means by which the Lord could guide His children to His heavenly kingdom, and there has been at all times a “secret place of the Most High” in man’s soul where the altar of the Lord could be erected.

The altar of the Lord is the symbol of our acknowledgment of the Lord in the heart and life, setting up the law of the Lord as the supreme law of all our thoughts and actions.

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“These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt,” by Louis A. Dole

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“These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.” – Exodus 32:4

Readings

Exodus 32:1-14 · Luke 12:13-36 · Psalm 52

Sermon

While Moses was in the mount receiving the commandments from the Lord, the people took their golden earrings and made of them a molten calf, and they said, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.”

This is a story of folly that sounds little less than insanity. The Lord, through Moses, by mighty miracles had delivered them from bondage in Egypt and brought them to Sinai. Yet because Moses was some time in the mountain the people turned against him. They could not have been more foolish.

Yet many today repeat this insanity in another form. Moses stands for the Divine Law which came through him. There is the Divine Law. It is given in the Word. Yet there are many who are too ready to put it out of mind. “As for this Moses, the man that brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we wot not what is become of him.” It is because minds and hearts are absorbed in things of self and the world and closed against heaven. When men are absorbed in things of the body and self, and in getting on in the world, closing the interior planes of the soul which otherwise would be opened to heaven, they turn from heaven and the Lord to the world and to themselves, loving self with all the heart and life. This is what is represented by the absence of Moses and by their contemptuous cry, “As for this Moses… we wot not what is become of him.”

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“Why repair ye not the breaches of the house?” by Louis A. Dole

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“Why repair ye not the breaches of the house?” – 2 Kings 12:7

Readings

2 Kings 12:1-12 · Matthew 21:12-27 · Psalm 103

Sermon

Beginning with the twelfth chapter of Genesis the Old Testament in its letter is the history of the chosen people. Spiritually it describes the struggles, the discouragements, and the final triumph of the Lord’s church and of the heavenly life in the regenerating soul. The time of the divided kingdom which followed upon the death of Solomon was a period of decline. In the northern kingdom, Israel, this decline was continuous and rapid, but in the southern kingdom, Judah, occasionally a good king came to the throne. It is especially beautiful to notice that two of the good kings, Jehoash and Josiah, came to the throne as children, at eight years of age. They foreshadow the prophecy, “A little child shall lead them.” Such a child king, coming forward in evil days and recalling the people from idolatry, suggests the awakening of something childlike in ourselves, when we have gone astray, recalling us to worship of the Lord.

The Lord stores up holy states and memories in every child, and most carefully guards them. These states are the basis for our association with the heavens from which come those influences which in our later years operate to turn us from evil to good. Often we are conscious that the awakening of some innocent, tender state or some memory of earlier days is the means of recalling us to our duty. The Lord’s care in storing up and guarding the innocent states of childhood, which are to be the source of strength in later years, is especially suggested in the story of Jehoash, whom the good priest hid for six years in the house of the Lord, until the time came for him to be recognized as king.

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