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LESSONS. (1) There cannot be neutrality in regard to Christ's claims (1-4).
(2) There can be no great blessing for self, nor through self, without faith (9, 10).
(3) The gifts of God lead to repentance (17, compare Rom. ü. 4). (4) Never be flattered spectators of wrong, but seek to prevent it (11—18).
JUNE 17. SUBJECT THE RETURN TO ANTIOCH. Lesson-Acts xiv. 19—28. Golden Text-Matt. xxviii. 19. INTRODUCTION.-We still follow the missionary Apostle. Did ever any pass through so much as he? In every place persecutions, of which the mildest would have turned most aside. On this journey expelled from Antioch, forced to flee from Iconium, now stoned at Lystra.
19. Thither. To Lystra. Jews. How already and afterwards they dogged his steps. Not content to drive him from own town, must oppose him in others. Persuaded the people. Found them perplexed. Had taken Apostles for gods. This repudiated. What were they? Evidently they possessed superhuman power. Probably, Jews suggested, demoniacal agency, as had said of Christ (Luke xi. 16). This swayed people to intense hatred of Paul and Barnabas. Stoned Paul. Only Paul. The people" did it, led on by Jews, to whom stoning would seem most appropriate. So violent the attack, dragged out of city for dead. May have been in swoon (2 Cor. xi. 25).
20. Disciples. New converts, won during short stay. Perhaps Timothy one (2 Tim. iii. 10, 11. Required courage to show friendship now. Rose up. Not simply came to consciousness. Rose, miraculously renewed. Came into city. Persecutors would be terrified on seeing him well again. The God who had raised him could keep. Next day. No more good there now. Derbe. Small town about seventy miles S.E. Here reached furthermost point of journey.
21. There they preached, and taught many. This all we are told. Publicly proclaimed Christ, and privately enforced word. What inletting of light, what enfranchisement of souls, what augmentation of responsibility these words include ! Returned by cities before visited. Not tempted by nearer and easier route through Cilicia, nor terrified by prospects of renewed persecution. Knew need of oversight and help new converts have.
22. Confirming souls. Not by imposition of hands, but by the truth, buttressing their positions. Exhorting. Showing importance of fidelity, and urging to it. Warning them would have to suffer for Christ (John xv. 20). Enter into Kingdom of God. This term not here used generally for God's spiritual dominion, for they already under it, but especially for kingdom in glory (Rom. viii. 17; Rev. vii. 14)."
23. Ordained elders. Men of gifts and grace were selected by the people and appointed by the Apostles, as themselves been appointed (xiii. 3). They were to keep oversight of Church, lead its enterprises, administer its discipline. Prayed with fasting. Too earnest in prayer to leave off for food. The occasion a serious one. These Christians were left seven years before another apostolic visit. Commended to Lord. He remained with them, "able to
24. Pisidia and Pamphylia. See notes on xii. 13, 14.
25. Preached ... in Perga. This not done in journey out, because people removing inland. Now at home, and therefore Apostles lingered to preach. When left, not re-embark at Perga. Probably no vessel in for Antioch. So went to Attalia. A coast town and port, still existing, sixteen miles S.W. of Perga.
26. To Antioch. The Syrian Antioch, from whence had set out. Would land at Seleucia, the port to Antioch, as Gravesend to London. Fulfilled. Had completed the circuit and done the work. How many, with such difficulties, would have fulfilled it? (Hymn 986, ver. 5.)
27. Gathered Church. For first missionary meeting. Paul and Barnabas, the deputation. Rehearsed not what they had accomplished, but God had done. The victories at Paphos, Antioch, Iconium, &c. The preservation at Lystra. The growing infant Churches. Opened the door of faith. Entrance to Church no longer through circumcision, but faith. The same door open yet. To Gentiles. Had not “ turned to Gentiles" on own responsibility, but on God's opening door. 28. There abod e. Recruiting energies and refreshing souls.
LESSONS. 1. Faithful following of Christ will often lead through dangers (19). 2. Jesus Himself is His people's sanctuary (20, and 1 Peter iii. 13, 14). 3. The importance of following up Christian work (21-24). 4. Heaven's welcome home awaits all faithful workers (28, and 2 Tim. iv. 8).
Golden Text—1 Peter ii. 15. In previous quarter's lessons, found Church confined within Judæa. In this, see it bursting through its boundaries. Life-giving streams now flow in every direction. Of first section, “Unto you first” (iii. 26) is the key-word; of second, “We turn to the Gentiles” (xii. 46). A general view presents these features :
1. Rapid Diffusion of the Truth. Persecution at Stephen's death scattered Christians. These carried good seed into fresh fields: once more illustrating Ps. lxxvi. 10. Philip wins converts in Samaria. Refugees labour in Antioch and Damascus. Africa stretches out her hands, and one of her sons is converted in the desert. A few join from grosser aims, but most bring forth “ fruit unto holiness,"
2. A new departure. Was foretold Jesus would give blessings to Gentiles (Lake ii. 32). Now Peter, who opened door to Jews at Pentecost, is called to receive Gentiles into Church. In his conduct on receiving call at Joppa and teaching Cornelius and friends, a noble example of breaking through early prejudices at call of duty. Kingdom of Heaven now open to all believers, not merely the circumcised.
3. An Ambassador-Extraordinary. The open door being set, need for one to go in. Peter, however willing, not adapted for Gentile work. Another found. Called from enemy's ranks. Instantly brought to repentance and converted. Appointed Apostle of Gentiles (xxvi. 17, 18). Man of brilliant talents, learned education, burning love, unquenchable zeal. Retired awhile to unlearn Judaism and “put on Christ.” Then began to teach.
4. First Missionary Tour. Church in Antioch set apart Paul and Barnabas for missionary work. They go whither Spirit leads. To Paphos, where worship of Venus had stronghold. To Perga, where Diana had splendiá temple. To Lystra, of which father of gods himself was called protector. To busy trading towns, as Iconium; to Roman colonies, as Antioch; to rural districts in Lycaonia. Preached to pro-consul and priest, Jew and proselyte, noble and slave. Very successful. Won Sergius Paulus, Timothy, and Gaius of Derbe, and established many Churches.
5. Hostilities. In Palestine, the Sanhedrin led attack, sending emissaries even to Damascus. Herod Agrippa sent James to martyr's crown, and sought Peter's life. Synagogue rulers, proselyted fanatics, impostors who found their ** occupation gone, and Pagan mobs, persecuted wherever had opportunity.
6. The Sustaining Hand. This powerfully with Church. Supporting by special grace, and encouraging by mighty signsconfounding Elymas, healing Æneas, raising Dorcas, reviving Paul, and making Church to "flourish, unconsumed, in fire.''
Lesson-Josh. i. 1-18. Golden Text-Eph. iv. 10. INTRODUCTION.—Joshua, the son of Nun, was a prince of the tribe of Ephraim. His_genealogy is given, 1 Chron. vii. 22—27. His original name was Hosea
, or Hoshea (salvation), but was called by Moses Jehoshna (Jehovah's salvation) (Numbers xiii. 2, 8, 16). . He first appears as Commander of the Israelites in their battle with Amalék (Exod. xvii. 8-14), where he displayed those military abilities for which he afterwards became famous. He acted as Moses' attendant at the giving of the Law (Exod. xxiv. 13). With a true soldier's love of order he wanted Moses to forbid the unauthorised prophesying of Eldad and Medad, but was rebuked by Moses (Numb. xi. 27, 28). "Now the Israelites were in the plains of Moab, amid palm trees and acacia groves, in sight of Mount Pisgah, from whose summit Moses had gazed upon the Promised Land. Moses had gone. Joshua was about 85 years of age, but with vigour of body and mind unabated. He is divinely commissioned to be the successor to Moses.
EXPOSITION, 1. The Servant of the Lord—the most dignified title that could be given to an individual. Applied to Moses (Numb. xii. 7, 8). Peculiar title of Messiah (Is. xli. 8, xlii. 1). Applied to Joshua after his death (Josh. xxiv. 29; Judges ii. 8), and to David (Ps. lxxix. 20). Moses' minister, or attendant.
The Lord spake unto him-perhaps directly; perhaps through the High Priest by the Urim (Num. xxvii. 21).
2. Death of Moses placed Joshua in command (Num. xxvii. 15—23; Deut. xxxi. 7, 8). Ordered to cross Jordan-Moses not permitted to cross.
3, 4. See Deut. xi. 24. Boundaries given : N., Lebanon ; S., the Wilderness; E., the River Euphrates; W., the Mediterranean, or Great Sea. See Gen, xv. 18. In prosperous reigns of David and Solomon Israel never pushed beyond these limits. “Land of the Hittites" (descendants of Hetb, second son of Canaan, Gen. xxii. 3—5). Here put for the land of Canaan generally. Canaan regarded as the proper possession of the Israelites.
5, 6. Success promised. Joshua's life was to be preserved to see it. This had been denied to Moses. I will not fail thee, &c. (Deut. xxxi. 6–8; Heb. xiii. 5, 6).
7, 8. The law which . Moses commanded. Direct evidence for a written law left by Moses. It was to be studied and obeyed. The word trans. lated prospor and have good success, better rendered, as in margin, “ do wisely;" i.e., act with real sagacity ; it denotes the cause of success rather than the success itself.
9. Exhortation to courage; reiteration of promise.
10. Officers of the people. Mentioned as existing in Egypt when Moses began his work (Exod. v.). They must be distinguished from the commanders of thousands and hundreds and tens ; and from the judges and magistrates, They were most probably scribes, who wrote down the names of the people and their appointed work—their duties were both civil and military.
11. Preparation of victuals necessary as manna was about to cease, though the people might not know of it. Within three days, i.e., before three days were ended. Must suppose that the spies had been already sent off, though the fact is not recorded till further on (Josh. ii. 1). Such a sagacious loader would not publicly announce his intentions before sending men on an errand which required the utmost secresy. This verse illustrates Joshua's faith and obedience rather than the precise order of events.
12, 13. Instructions to the Eastern tribes. Moses allowed them to settle east of the Jordan, but on stringent terms (Num. xxxii.), which Joshua bids them remember.
14. All the mighty men of valour. Not all the adults who were fit for war; they would have numbered, not 40,000 only, but three times as many (Num. xxvi. 2, 7, 18, 34). Armed, i.e., arrayed for battle, indicated some preparation for war. 15. Enjoy, literally, possess.
This side-east of the river. Usually termed" beyond Jordan.”
16–18. Eastern tribes full of readiness. If Jehovah were with him, and he were strong and courageous, he should be to them all that Moses had been. We never read of Israel rebelling, nor even murmuring, during the life of Joshna.
LESSONS, (1) “God buries His workmen, but carries on His work." (2) A promise does not lull a true servant, but stimulates him. (3) God is ever the helper of the true and brave. (4) We must learn to obey, if we would be qualified to rule.
ILLUSTRATIONS.—Joseph in Egypt; Daniel in Babylon; the three Hebrew children; our Saviour is took upon Him the form of a servant. Wherefore God hath highly exalted Him” (Phil. i. 6—9, John xiii. 4–17). The faithful in few things are to be rulers over many things (Matt. xxv. 21).
Fresh BIBLICAL DISCOVERIES. The labours of the antiquarian are constantly bringing new contributions to the truth, or illustrations of the same records. The following letter, sent to the Daily Telegraph by that eminent Egyptologist Reginald Stuart Poole, will be perused with much interest by our readers :
British Museum, February 20, 1883. SIR, -M. Naville writes from Tell-el-Maschuta to announce that the excavations undertaken by him on that site for the Egypt Exploration Fund have already yielded a result of the first historical and geographical importance. This site-Tell-el-Maschuta -roughly, midway between Ismalia and Tell-el-Kebir, is proved by an inscription dug up by M. Naville to be at once the Pithom and the Succoth of the Bible. Pithom was the sacred name descriptive of the Temple, and Succoth (Tuku) the civil appellation. We read of Pithom as one of the cities built by the Israelites during the oppression (Exodus i. 11), and Succoth was their first station in the march of the Exodus (Exodus xii. 37, xiii. 20). The discovery not only places Pithom-Succoth in the map, but in doing so gives us at last a fixed point in the route of the Israelites out of Egypt.
A full discussion of the results of this discovery would be premature, but it may be remarked that it greatly modifies Dr. Brugsch's attempt to reconstruct the primitive geography of the Delta, which, like a broken geographical puzzle, will now be put together. It must not, however, be forgotten that with the help of his collection of literary documents the labour is comparatively easy. It is to be hoped that the work to which M. Naville has devoted his great knowledge will not languish for want of funds. Hitherto it has been supported single-handed by Sir Erasmus Wilson.
Your obedient servant,
Egypt Exploration Fund.
British Museum, Feb. 28. SIR,—M. Naville writes of further discoveries at Pithom. It will be remembered that, after the fashion of Egyptian towns, this place had a sacred and a civil name—Pithom and Thuka, or Succoth. The explorer has since found a Roman milestone of Maximian or Severus, proving it to be identical with the Roman Hero or Ero, the Greek Hevoopolis, & third or classical name, as is common in Egyptian geography. He traces this word to the Egyptian Ar (Ari, Ara), storehouse, which actually occurs in the inscriptions of the statue by which he first identified Pithom. M. Naville has also opened a strongly-built store-room, probably a granary, and believes there are many similar enclosures. It will be noticed how completely Pithom answers to the description of a store city (Exod. i. 11). The work is very costly, and it is to be hoped that donations will be forthcoming to enable M. Naville to do all that is possible before the hot weather sets in. Cheques can be sent to Miss Amelia B. Edwards, The Larches, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, my co-secretary, “Egypt Exploration Fund,” or to me, pending the election of a treasurer.
Your obedient servant,
REGINALD STUART POOLE.
Revive us now,
We care not how;
But haste, that we
May live by Thee,
Lord, hear our cry!
O Lord, we die !
Now! now, the heavens rend.
This hour may we
Thy glory see,
With greater power
Than in the hour
Of Pentecost come down.
O Holy Ghost,
Of whom we boast, . Parched nature to renew. Assert Thine own renown!
Thy fame assert ;
Renew the earth,
On all our race
Pour now Thy grace,