Comfort comes from Latin com- ( → COM-) together+ fortis “strong”. So to make strong. This comfort may come from people or God.
Heidelberg Catechism speaks thus:
“Comfort is something we need. Take, for instance, if someone is in the hospital suffering from the pain of cancer. If you were to ask such a person, “What is your comfort?” then he might answer that his friends have overwhelmed him with gifts and visits or that he has the best doctors money can buy. What would you say to comfort this person: “Things could always be worse”? “Cheer up, there will be better days ahead”?
Take another example: a funeral home. What words of comfort would you speak there? Some say that comfort is looking at all the good the person did in his life. Others might say that death is natural, and what matters is only that we enjoy life and use it while we have it. And still others, weighed down with sorrow, would frankly admit to you that there is no comfort to be found in this life, no place where men do not weep. What consolation would you give to someone who said that?
In opposition to all worldly ideas of comfort and man’s attempts of consoling a person in grief, the Christian, no matter what his life may be, has the only comfort in both life and death. His comfort rests upon the Bible, the Word of God. One could even say that the Bible is God’s word of comfort to His people. Isaiah the prophet is commanded to proclaim God’s word in Isaiah 40:1-2: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned, for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” There the comforting word is that Jerusalem’s iniquity is pardoned, her warfare is over, for she has received from God the forgiveness of her sins. Isaiah voices that same soothing word in chapter 52:9, “Break forth into joy, sing together, ye waste places of Jerusalem, for the Lord hath comforted his people, he hath redeemed Jerusalem.” There, again, the Scripture identifies comfort with redemption, that is, with the forgiveness of sins by the grace of God. The apostle Paul in II Corinthians 1:3-4 gives us the same message of comfort: “Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort, who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” There God is identified as “the God of all comfort,” that is, all comfort proceeds from Him and is to be found only in fellowship with Him. He is the one able to comfort us in all our tribulation. And the purpose for which God comforts us is that we might be able to comfort those who are in any trouble.”
For more on “Our Only Comfort” by Rev. Carl Haak, see https://cprc.co.uk/articles/ouronlycomfort/
God’s timetable is Jewish! Christ was crucified at Passover, rose on First-fruits, poured out his spirit on Pentecost and personally I believe that he was born and have an inkling, though no man knows the day or hour, that he will return at Tabernacles!
A topic I always wondered about!
God’s Attempt to Kill Moses
Question: “Why did God seek to kill Moses?
Exodus 4:24-26: “And it came to pass by the way in the inn, that the Lord met him, and sought to kill him.
So he let him go: then she said, A bloody husband thou art, because of the circumcision.”
Moses had to flee and found his place in the Sinai peninsula in the home of Jethro. There he stayed for forty years tending Jethro’s sheep. During this period, he married Zipporah, Jethro’s daughter, and they had a son (Ex. 2:16-22). But now the time had come that God would save His people. So He sent Moses to Egypt to deliver Israel.
From Moses’ and Zipporah’s point of view, Moses was on the verge of being killed by God. And they both looked at what was happening from that perspective.
What lesson did He want to teach Moses and Zipporah? The answer is in the text itself. Jehovah’s apparent intention to kill Moses was forgotten when Zipporah circumcised Gershom, their son (Ex. 4:25-26). It all had to do with the circumcision of their son.
God had given Abraham the sign of circumcision when God established His covenant with Abraham (Gen. 17:7-14). Notice in this passage that Jehovah told Abraham that any of his descendants who did not circumcise their sons had broken God’s covenant and had to be cut off from Israel (14).
Moses knew God’s command to Abraham, but had nevertheless failed to observe it. One gets the impression from Zipporah’s anger in casting the foreskin at Moses feet and saying to him (twice in the text), “A bloody husband thou art to me,” that she had opposed it. Maybe, when Moses brought up the subject of Gershom’s circumcision, Zipporah objected. It was, perhaps, in her eyes, an unnecessary and mutilating act on her baby. Moses had not insisted. So Moses had broken God’s covenant!
Two very important truths are emphasized here. The first is that circumcision was the God-given sign and seal of the covenant because it pointed to the fact that Jehovah would establish His covenant and save His people in the line of generations. The second truth is that Abraham and all succeeding generations are saved and brought into God’s covenant only by the shedding of blood. Abraham’s seed was, centrally, Christ (Gal. 3:16). Only through Christ’s blood, that made perfect satisfaction for all the sins of God’s people, could Jehovah’s covenant be realized and salvation come.
To refuse to perform the rite of circumcision was to cast doubt on the coming of Christ and the efficacy of the cross. That is, it was a repudiation of salvation through the shedding of the blood of Jesus as the washing away of sins.
I do not know whether Zipporah’s refusal to have her son circumcised was due to the fact that she was born outside the line of the covenant. Though her father was certainly a priest and the worship of God was preserved in his family, she, if we may be charitable, did not understand the truth of God’s covenant. But Moses knew these things and he should have insisted. Moses broke God’s covenant and was worthy of death. How could one who had broken God’s covenant be the leader to deliver Jehovah’s covenant people from the bondage of Egypt? Moses was responsible to perform his covenantal obligation before he could be a proper instrument in God’s hand to lead His covenant people to Canaan.
Baptism has taken the place of circumcision (Col. 2:11-13; Belgic Confession 34). Baptism is the New Testament sign and seal of God’s covenant, for it is the sign and seal of the great truth that God’s covenant is established with believers and their seed through the washing away of sin in the blood of Christ. It is a breaking of God’s covenant to refuse to baptize our children and it is a denial of the great truth that God saves His people in the lines of generations through the blood of Christ.
Let us not take God’s anger at Moses lightly. Let us not take the importance of baptizing our children lightly. And let us not deny that baptism is a sacrament that takes the place of circumcision, now that Christ has come. Prof. Hanko
Adapted from Covenant Reformed News April 2012
I have for a long time puzzled over this and read a fair bit but a recent F.B. challenge caused me to compile this short article-may it profit you!
A friend states, “The Holy Spirit was not given to the average person in OT times. Only the prophet, priest and king were anointed by the Holy Spirit for their offices”
Not true! Because election before the foundation of the world and the salvation it brings is a full package (Rom.8:29,30) that applies to saints in all ages and furthermore “If anyone has not the Spirit of Christ he is not his!” (Rom.8:9). Can you deny these saints belonged to him? One covenant of God in all of time to save his people and be their God for ever.
I grant you there was an extra anointing for prophet, priest and king-for service just as with Christ at his baptism and Pentecost for the disciples.
Yes, I grant you friend that the day of Pentecost was a big change: the Holy Spirit was poured out on ALL flesh, that is, all believers BUT the major change was that all nations were included instead of just Jews and supernatural gifts were given proving apostolic authenticity and as a sign to unbelievers. My friend states that, “He began to indwell believers so that they became His temple. Even the twelve did not have the indwelling of the Spirit during Jesus’ earthly ministry.” Wrong! They did! (John 20:22) and without the Spirit they would have had no desire to leave all and follow him, no faith, no fruit, no revelation which they all exhibited to some degree. Christ also explicitly states the Spirit in them would inspire them when they appeared before tribunals (Luke 12:11,12).
My friend goes on, “Now, why could not the Holy Spirit indwell people prior to the cross and ascension of Jesus? Because they weren’t born again, regenerated, in OT times.” Wrong! Regeneration is fundamental to salvation! They were regenerate and their lives prove it as do the Scriptures e.g. 1 Peter 1:11 “searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” There is a long list of OT heroes of faith, all empowered by the Spirit.
God applies redemption prospectively and retrospectively from the Cross throughout all of redemptive time. Redemption includes regeneration, the gifts of repentance & faith, and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
Why do some think it a harder thing for God to apply redemption backwards through time from the Cross than forward? Jesus paid for the sins of believers who had not been born yet and had not actually committed those sins yet. God is not limited by time!
The indwelling Spirit causes the antithesis (conflict between Satan and Christ/God’s people) established in Genesis 3:15! Adam & Eve were elect and were regenerated mercifully by God at this time when the “proto-evangel” (first gospel message) was shared with them and God clothed them with the skin of a sacrificed animal. The Spirit was also promised to believers’ covenant children: Isaiah. 44:3, “I will pour my Spirit upon your seed, and my blessing upon your offspring. They could also call God Father proving their adoption! Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou,Lord, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting” Isaiah 63:16
“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8
My friend states, “They technically, physically, still belonged to Satan because they were still under the law of Sin and Death prior to faith in Christ’s resurrection” RUBBISH! you are mixing up the Mosaic Law of the OT and the powerful law principle of sin and death that rules in all unregenerate people i.e. us prior to conversion! That is the law of sin and death Paul is talking about!
There is ONE CHURCH IN ALL OF TIME the true seed of Abraham comprising Jew and Gentile as per the teaching of Rom 4:11-16, Gal.3:7, Eph.1:4. Saint means called out and sanctified one, therefore saints OT and NT together comprise the EKKLESIA church and bride of Christ.
Faith is a fruit of the Spirit as is love, joy and peace-all these were evident in the OT saints. Note SAINTS because sanctified by the Spirit and part of his church! One church in all of time not divided by dispensations (there was the church in the wilderness see Acts 7:38! ” This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sinai, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us” Moses, Elijah, Abraham etc could not have been in glory and alive (two of whom appear with Christ on the mount) without the Spirit. The Spirit given by Christ as the Spirit of Christ as promised in John 16 with the outpouring of Acts 2 is richer in revelation but essentially the same Spirit as worked faith in the OT saints. The Spirit at any one time could only reveal truth in Christ according to what God had revealed in his word up till then (Spirit and Word* are bound together)-so we have them in the OT believing in the Christ of prophecy and sacrificial types whereas now we believe in the Christ who has come and completely revealed himself.
* Just as the Spirit’s whole raison d’etre is to glorify Christ, the incarnate WORD.
Abiding in Christ the Vine
John 15:4-6 “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Abiding is the result of being grafted into Christ by God through the bond of faith-it is union, communion and the conscious fellowship of active faith. We draw water/sap/drink out of him by the means of grace which sustain our spiritual life as the vine supports the branches and then bear the fruit of the Spirit and good works. In other similes of faith we also eat the bread of life and hear the voice of the shepherd. All of this is by the Spirit who establishes the bond and is the water flowing between Christ and his people.
The Believer’s Blessing (2)
“For thou hast made him most blessed for ever: thou hast made him exceeding glad with thy countenance. For the king trusteth in the Lord, and through the mercy of the most High he shall not be moved.” Psalm 21:6,7.
” Blessing is upon a man (or woman, or boy or girl) when every word of God over that man flows from God’s everlasting good pleasure unto his eternal glory, from his counsel of salvation. That blessing changes every apparent evil into an eternal good. It is the cause, the reason, that all things work together for good. It is the irresistible operation of God’s grace through every means; through all the way, through every experience, every circumstance, leading inevitably and with absolute certainty unto the joy and the happiness of God’s everlasting tabernacle! God’s blessing is singular, not plural, one, not many. To be sure, there is in that blessing of God a plurality of infinite and manifold riches. But there is only one blessing of God! It cannot be divided into a general and a particular blessing, a common and a special blessing. God is one; his counsel is one; his Word is one; and his blessing is one. Upon they people is thy blessing!”
As we look further into 2020 no matter what, “we know that God’s blessing shall be upon us, his people, in the end. It is upon us now. The word of God’s good will (Jesus Christ) proceeds toward us continuously, surrounds us, meets us, guides us, comforts us, assures us, follows us all the way to our eternal inheritance.”
This confidence is an act of friendship, whereby I draw near to God without fear, make known to him the secrets of my heart, flee to him for refuge in all my miseries, cast myself upon him, laying hold upon his promises, assured of his good will toward me and of his power to save me from the uttermost. The indispensible ground of confidence is the knowledge that God loves me personally. God reveals his eternal good will and love toward me in the face of Jesus Christ.
Adapted from Reformed Dogmatics by Herman Hoeksema.
This meditation was written by Rev. Herman Hoeksema and published in the very first issue of the Standard Bearer, dated October 1924.
The Lord is good to all…but all the wicked will he destroy. Ps. 145:9a, 20b
Emphatically, according to the Hebrew original, the poet, who is the inspired author of this psalm, puts it: “Good is Jehovah.”
The Lord is goodness essentially.
Apart from any relation to his creatures, conceived all by himself, in himself, for himself, as the absolutely self-existent, self-sufficient, independent one, the Lord is good. His essence is goodness, his eternally adorable divine being is only good. Could we enter into the amazing profundity and explore the fathomless depths of his infinite being, the deepest depths of the incomprehensible divine essence would reveal nothing but goodness.
He is the light and there is no darkness in him. He is truth, righteousness, holiness, purity, love, grace, mercy and eternal life, and there is no lie, unrighteousness, defilement, corruption and death in him.
He is Summum Bonum, the highest good, not in a mere superlative sense, not in a sense that would compare him with other goods or goodnesses, that might perhaps be conceived as existing next to him though in a far inferior degree; but in the sense that he is the sole good, that there is no good apart from him or without him. He is the ultimate and absolute criterion of all good. He is not good in the sense that he answers to a certain standard of goodness that might be applied to him, but himself is the only standard of all that is called good.
He is good because he is God.
Very perfection in all his adorable virtues. Good is Jehovah!
The Lord is good!
And because the very being of his adorable godhead is goodness, the divine nature in all the glorious attributes thereof is purest perfection and immaculate goodness. Neither is there any reason of want in God why he should need an object unto which to reveal and upon which to lavish his goodness. For as the triune God he lives from everlasting to everlasting the perfect life of Infinite goodness in and thru himself. Never there arises from the unfathomable depths of his perfect essence the slightest thought that is not good, perfect, true. Never the faintest thrill of imperfection there is in the will of Jehovah. Never the most imperceptible discord there is in his divine feeling. Never there is the tiniest ripple of evil on the stream of life flowing from his divine heart.
No shadow of darkness ever bedims the light of life, perfect and infinite, of the divine family. Father, Son and Holy Ghost, each eternally subsisting in the unchangeable essence of limitless goodness, thinking in the perfect mind, willing with the perfect will are living in absolute self-sufficiency an uninterrupted divine life of purest goodness, dwelling in a light that is never in any wise bedimmed.
Yea, good is Jehovah!
Everlastingly, solely, unchangeably good!
Because the Lord is good, the absolute good in himself he is also good to all his creatures.
Good is Jehovah to all!
He is the overflowing fount of all good.
All the good his creatures ever receive is solely from him and is only good because he is good, assumes an attitude of goodness to them. He is full of richest benevolence which he lavishes in profuse abundance upon all the wide creation. His goodness profuses the silvery luster throughout the starry heavens and arranges their marvelous harmony night upon night. His goodness decks the sun with that glorious attire of wondrous gold, day after day. His goodness adorns the lily of the field with purest beauty such as Solomon never possessed and clothes the royal cedars of Lebanon with strength and majesty. His goodness causes the royal eagle to renew its strength as it sweeps the firmament with powerful wing; and fills the mouth of the young raven crying to him for food. His goodness remembers the roaring lion and the chirping sparrow on the housetop. His goodness clothes the meadows in velvety green and covers the fields with golden grain. His goodness made man a little lower than the angels, adds keenness to his mind and strength to his arm and fills his heart with gladness.
Surely, all the works of his hand speak of his goodness.
Good is Jehovah to all!
Nor is this the last word that is to be said about the goodness of Jehovah.
It may be the last in the estimation of a natural religion, that knows of no sin and speaks of no grace.
It might be the last word had paradise not been lost. There in the midst of that Edenic virgin beauty of creation, in that original state of unmarred perfection, where sin had not dropped her stain and misery had not left her scar and the groan of the sufferer was not heard,—there God’s goodness displayed itself simply as goodness, overflowing riches of benevolence, poured upon every creature according to the measure of its capacity.
The single light-beam of God’s goodness had not resolved itself into the many-colored rays of his grace, tender mercy and loving kindness in contrast with his holy wrath and faultless justice.
But sin entered. And in the wake of sin came death. And with death followed suffering in all its awful forms, agony of soul and body, pain, sorrow, grief, fear. And the curse of God was pronounced upon the creature and subjected it to vanity; the chilling breath of a good God, maintaining himself in his goodness over against a sinful world, caused the w-hole creation to groan and travail together in pain. And even thus the creature made subject to vanity and man in his guilt bending under the cruel scourge of suffering and death are testimonies that the Lord is good and that there is no evil in him.
But more must be said.
Suffering creation, sin and guilt and misery and death and all the thick darkness from hell only became the occasion for God to manifest his goodness more abundantly. Darkness was employed by him as a prism thru which to resolve the pure white beam of his goodness into wonderful rays of manifold perfection. First of all there is, on occasion of sin and suffering, the beautiful and rich manifestation of God’s wonderful mercy and lovingkindness. His tender mercies are over all his works. Radiating from the cross of God’s beloved Son this tender mercy beams its warm glory first of all upon his chosen people whom he loved with love everlasting, with a love that is always first. Upon them he lavishes his tender mercy in the blood pouring from the heart of his only begotten, and in these streams of mercy he cleanses them from guilt, heals them from sin, redeems them from the power of death, comforts them forever for their misery and makes them heirs of a glory unspeakable, of a life incomparably richer, fuller, deeper than ever first paradise knew. They taste his lovingkindness and tender mercy, speak of it and sing of it, showing forth the praises of him that called them from darkness into his marvelous light. But even as the awful darkness of sin and misery spread from the first Adam till it enshrouded an entire groaning creation in its horrors, so the glad light of redemption radiates from the second Adam, falls first upon the elect, thence to spread again over the whole creation. Remembering his groaning creature with bowels of mercy and compassion, the Lord stretches the rainbow of an everlasting covenant over all. His tender mercies are over all his works.
The creature is made subject to vanity. It is subject to the yoke of bondage. It is travailing in pain together until now….
But in hope!
The whole creation shall be liberated from the bondage of corruption and be made to partake of the glorious liberty of the children of God!
Bowels of mercy!
The Lord is good to all!! His tender mercy is over all his works!
Good is Jehovah.
But all the wicked will he destroy.
Seemingly there is irreconcilable conflict here. The Lord is good and yet he destroys. Many a sinful mind will not have it so. Many would dream of a goodness without righteousness, of a grace without justice, of a benevolence without holy wrath. And yet, upon closer investigation this apparent conflict disappears, dissolves itself into most sublime harmony. He will destroy all the wicked because he is good. The destruction of the wicked, God’s wrath upon them is but another aspect of his perfect goodness.
The wicked are the vessels of wrath, fitted unto destruction. They are those that love iniquity and righteousness. God is not in all their thoughts. They say within their hearts, they express it in their words, they reveal it in their ways,—that there is no God. They are God’s enemies and children of their father the devil. They dwell in darkness and love it. They crucify Christ and persecute his people. They make the measure of their iniquity full.
So are all the wicked.
But the Lord is good. And because he is good and there is no evil in him, because he is a light and there is no darkness in him, therefore, his soul loves the righteous and loatheth the wicked, his face beams with tender mercy upon those that love him, but burns with fierce wrath upon them that love iniquity; he preserves the righteous but destroys all the wicked.
The Lord is good. Therefore there are in him bowels of mercy and consuming fires of holy wrath!