First lesson on Ruth
Hath appeared unto all men.—The word ἐπεφάνη, appeared, signifies it is broken out of a sudden, like a star, or like a light that was not seen before; and so it refers to the late manifestation of the gospel in the apostle’s days. Now on a sudden it broke out. So Luke 1:78, 79, ‘Through the tender mercy of our God, whereby the day-spring from on high hath visited us, to give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death.’ It is meant of the breaking out of the gospel, as the day doth after a dark night; so here the word ἐπεφάνη implieth the same.
Doct. 2. That grace in the discoveries of the gospel hath shined out in a greater brightness than ever it did before.
This grace appeareth in the gospel; there and there only is it clearly manifested.
In the prosecution of this point I shall show—
1. What darkness there was as to the knowledge of grace before.
2. How much of grace is now discovered.
I. First, What a darkness there was before the eternal gospel was brought out of the bosom of God. There was a darkness both among Jews and Gentiles. In the greatest part of the world there was utter darkness as to the knowledge of grace, and in the church nothing but shadows and figures.
A. This grace was not known in the world, only a little of it was:
1. [Common Grace]: Ps. 33:5, ‘The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord.’ Some inferior grace was made known to them in the creation and in the course of providence, by showers of rain and fruitful seasons, grace on this side heaven; but nothing of the secrets of God’s bosom, of the incarnation of God, of the expiation of sin by his death, of salvation by faith in the Mediator.
2. [Special Grace] This depends not upon the connection of natural causes, but the free pleasure of God; therefore the angels knew it not till it was revealed in the church. Eph. 3:10
a. The gentiles, by looking into the order of causes, could never find it out.
b. They might find a first being, and the chiefest good, but not a Christ, not a saviour;
c. Much of God may be seen in the known courses of nature, rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, but nothing of Christ. …Though he gave them not the gospel, yet he gave them the light of nature, and the looking-glass of the creatures.
B. To the Jews this grace began to dawn, but it was veiled in figures and shadows, that they could not see clearly….
1. Grace is opposed to the condemnation of the moral law, and truth to the shadows of the ceremonial law.
2. Christ’s offices, his benefices, his person, were but darkly propounded to them. Take but one place for all.
II. Secondly, What and how much of grace is now discovered? I answer—
A. The wisdom of grace. The gospel is a mere riddle to carnal reason, a great mystery: 1 Tim. 3:16, ‘Great is the mystery of godliness.’
1. There we read of God and man brought together, and justice and mercy brought together by the contrivance of grace; here only we see this mystery, that is without controversy great, for these things could not come into the heads of any creatures.
2. If angels and men had been put to study, and set down their way of reconciliation to God, how it should be, they could never have thought of such a remedy as the bringing of God and man together in the person of Christ, and justice and mercy together by the blood and satisfaction of Christ; this came out of no breast but God; he brought the secret out of his own bosom. …
3. When God redeemed the world, he had a greater work to do than to make the world at first. The object of creation was pure nothing, but then, as there was no help, so no hindrance; but now, in redemption, there was sin to be taken away, and that was worse than anything.
B. We discern the freeness of grace in the gospel, both in giving and accepting.
1. Whatever God doth is a gift, and what we do, it is accepted of grace. In giving there is a great deal of grace made known there. The Lord doth all freely: John 1:16, ‘And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace;’ that is, for grace’s sake he gives Christ, gives faith, gives pardon; he gives the condition as well as the blessing.
2. Certainly now we have to do with a God of grace, who sits upon a throne of grace, that he might bestow freely
3. Under the law it was figured out by the mercy-seat between the cherubims, from whence God was giving out answers; but there the high priest could enter but once a year, and the way within the veil was not fully made manifest, Heb. 9:8. There was a throne of grace then, but more God’s tribunal of justice; there was smoke and thundering about his throne; but now let us draw near that we may obtain grace, take all freely out of God’s hand.
C. The efficacy and power of grace is discovered in the gospel. Christ sendeth his Spirit to apply what he himself hath purchased. One person comes to merit, and the other to accomplish the fruit of his merit. Mark, to stop the course of grace, divine justice did not only put in an impediment, but there was our infidelity that hindered the application of that which Christ was to merit; and therefore, as the second person is to satisfy God, so the third person is to work upon us. There was a double hindrance against the business of our salvation—God’s justice, for the glory of God was to be repaired, therefore Christ was to merit; and there was our unbelief, therefore the Spirit must come and apply it. First, Christ suffered, and when he was ascended, then was the Spirit poured out. Had it not been for the gospel, we should never have known the efficacy and power of grace.
D. We are acquainted with the largeness and bounty of grace.
1. The benefits that come by Christ were not so clearly revealed in the law; there was no type that I know of which figured union with Christ.
2. The blood of Christ was figured by the blood of bulls and goats, justification by the fleeing away of the scape-goat, sanctification by the water of purification.
3. But now eternal life is rarely mentioned in express terms;
a. sometimes it is shadowed out in the promise of inheriting the land of Canaan, as hell is by going into captivity; but otherwise it is seldom mentioned: 2 Tim. 1:10, ‘But now it is made manifest’ (speaking of the grace of God) ‘by the appearing of our Saviour Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.’
b. The gentiles had but glimmerings and gross fancies about the future state.
c. Life and immortality was never known to the purpose till Christ came in the flesh; and therefore heaven is as sparingly mentioned in the Old Testament as temporal blessings are in the new.
d. In the New Testament we hear much of the cross, of sufferings, and afflictions. Why? Because there is much of heaven discovered. The eternal reward is strong enough, but temporals are not of consideration. Carnal men are of a temper quite contrary to the gospel; they could be content to be under the old dispensation, to have temporal blessings, and let God keep heaven to himself.
But this is the great privilege of the gospel, that life and immortality, the blessed hope, the eternal recompenses are now mentioned so expressly, and propounded to our desires and hopes.
E. In the gospel we learn the sureness of grace. God will no more be disappointed; the whole business lies without us, in other hands. In the first covenant, our salvation was committed to the indeterminate freedom of man’s will; but now Christ is both a redeemer and a surety.
Part Two: Use
I. Use 1. To persuade us, if grace be the cause of all the good we enjoy, not to wrong grace.
A. Why? For this is to close and stop up the fountain; yea, to make grace our enemy; and if grace be our enemy, who shall plead for us?
B. But how do we wrong grace? I answer—five ways—
1. By neglecting the offers of grace. Such make God speak in vain, and to spend his best arguments to no purpose: 2 Cor. 6:1,
a. It is a great affront you put upon God to despise him when he speaks in the still voice. Look, as when David had sent a courteous message to Nabal, and he returns a churlish answer, it put him in a fury: 1 Sam. 25:34,
b. It may be you do not return a rough and churlish answer, and are not scorners and opposers of the word, but you slight God’s sweetest message, when he comes in the sweetest and mildest way. … It is great salvation that is offered; there is an offer of pardon and eternal life, but it worketh not if you neglect it. There is a sort of men that do not openly deny, reject, or persecute the gospel, but they receive it carelessly, and are no more moved with it than with a story of golden mountains, or rubies or diamonds fallen from heaven in a night-dream. You make God spend his best arguments in vain if you neglect this grace.
….They do not absolutely deny, but make excuse; they do not say, non placet, but non vacant—they are not at leisure; and this made the king angry. When all things are ready, and God sets forth the treasures and riches of his grace, and men will not bethink themselves, their hearts are not ready. How will this make God angry? Such kind of neglecters are said to ‘judge themselves unworthy of eternal life,’ Acts 13:46. …Grace comes to save them, and God makes them an offer as though they were worthy; and they judge themselves unworthy, and plainly declare they were altogether not worthy of this grace.
2. Another sort of men that wrong grace are those that refuse grace out of legal dejection.
(a) Many poor creatures are so vile in their own eyes that they think it impossible they should ever find favour in God’s eyes. Oh! but consider, cannot the riches of grace save? When God shall set himself on purpose to glorify grace to the full, cannot it make thee accepted? Wherefore doth God bring creatures to see their unworthiness, but that grace might be the more glorious? Grace would not be so much grace if the creature were not so unworthy; therefore you should be glad you have your hearts at that advantage, to be sensible of your own vileness.
(b) It is a wrong to grace if you do not fly to it; you straiten the riches and darken the glory of it. It is as if an emperor’s revenue could not discharge a beggar’s debt. …
Take heed of slighting the grace of God; it is God’s treasure: so far as you lessen grace, you make God a poor God. Mark that expression, Eph. 2:4, ‘God, who is rich in mercy.’ God is lord of all things, but he counts nothing to be his treasure but his goodness and mercy. He doth not say, rich in power, though he is able to do beyond what we can ask or think; nor rich in justice, though he be righteous in all his ways and just in all his works; nor doth he say rich in creatures, though his are the cattle of a thousand hills; but rich in mercy. Therefore take heed of straitening mercy, for so far you lessen God’s wealth and treasure.
3. Grace is wronged by intercepting the glory of grace.
(a) It is the greatest sacrilege that can be to rob God of his glory, especially the glory of his grace.
(b) Grace is wronged also when you are puffed up with anything you have done for God, as if it were done by your own power and strength.
(c) So, when we have done anything for the glory of God, let us send for God to take the honour.
4. Grace is wronged by turning it into wantonness.
(a) It is a heavy charge, and a black note is set on them: Jude 4, ‘Ungodly men, turning the grace of God into lasciviousness;’ …It is a mighty wrong to grace when we make it pliable to such a vile purpose.
(b) You dishonour God and disparage grace when you would make it to father the bastards of your own carnal hearts. You are vile and sinful, and you are so under the encouragements of grace, and the rather because of the abundance of grace; and, like the spider, suck poison out of the flower, and turn it into the nourishment of your lust;
( c) Grace giveth no such liberty to sin. This is done grievously by the Antinomians, who say grace gives them freedom from the moral law. It is true, grace makes us free, but to duty, not to sin.
(d) A man hath never the more carnal liberty for being acquainted with the gospel. This is the great thing which puts us upon duty and watchfulness, and melts the heart for sin, and awes it, and disposeth it to obedience.
5. Grace is wronged by slighting it after a taste, as carnal professors do: 1 Peter 2:3, ‘If so be you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.’
(a) A man hath at first a taste, that he may have trial how sweet the ways of God are. Now, if after trial, you are not satisfied, but make choice of the world again, it is a mighty wrong and contempt you put upon grace; for you do as it were declare and pronounce that you have made trial, and upon experience have found the pleasures and profits of the world are better than all the comforts that flowed from the grace of God.
(b) The whole aim of the word is to persuade men to make trial of the sweetness of grace: Ps. 34:8, ‘O taste and see that the Lord is good,’ and that his grace is good. But now your experience is a flat negative and contradiction to the word, and you do as it were say, I have made trial, and I find no such sweetness in it. None wrong grace so much as they that have tasted of grace, and yet have turned aside to the profits and pleasures of the world again, and grow weary after some strictness of profession.
II. Use 2. To press you to glorify grace.
A. This is the glory God expects from you. ..Certainly he that is a partaker of it must needs be most affected with it. Let us see a little what cause we have to praise God, above the angels, and above other men.
1. Above the angels. I do not mean the bad angels, with whom God entered not into treaty; he dealeth with them in justice, not in grace; but even the good angels. …
(a) In some respects we have more cause to bless God than even the good angels…. It is true God hath been exceeding good and bountiful to the angels, in creating them out of nothing, that they are the courtiers of heaven; but mark how good and gracious he is to us above them. The angels never offended him, but he is bountiful and gracious to us, notwithstanding the demerits of our sin; his wronged justice interposed and put in a bar, yet grace breaks out, and is manifested to us unworthy creatures.
2. Above other men.
(a) There is a common and inferior sort of grace, which is made known to all the world. [“Common grace”]
(b) The whole earth is full of his goodness, but this grace that bringeth salvation, that is peculiar to the elect, to a few poor base creatures in themselves, a little handful whom God hath chosen out of the world.’’
But when God comes to look among the sons of men, many times he chooseth the most crabbed pieces, and calls them with a holy calling, according to the purpose of his grace. It is a wonder sometimes to see how grace makes the difference between two persons involved in the same guilt. Justice can make no separation; when men are in a like case, they must look for the same judgment; but grace makes a great separation. Many of God’s elect are as deep in sin as those now in hell, yet God makes a difference. Both the good and bad thief were involved in the same condemnation, yet one is taken into paradise, and the other went unto his own place. Thus praise and glorify grace.
Sebastiano Ricci, The Resurrection 1714
Here is the question of death in a way that differs from Dylan Thomas’ hopeless view of the matter.
James Denney begins his sermon, Immortality, as follows:
WHO has not asked this question, in suspense, in hope, or in fear? We know that we must all die: we know that those who are dearest to us must die: can our eyes penetrate beyond the veil which death lets fall? Is there any answer in the nature or heart of humanity to the question of Job, “If a man die shall he live again?”
If we look at the history of nations and religions, we see that the whole tendency of man has been to answer the question in one way. “Looking at the religion of the lower races as a whole,” says Dr. Tylor in his Primitive Culture, “we shall at least not be ill advised in taking as one of its general and principal elements the doctrine of the soul’s future life.” The idea of the extinction or annihilation of man in death is indeed not so much a natural as a philosophic or doctrinaire one; an untaught mind is incapable of it, and it only appears as a fruit of reflection or speculation. The natural inclination of man everywhere is to believe not in his extinction, but in his survival. The ideas attached to the word may be vague, but they are real, and they exercise a real influence upon the life.
James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 177.
As he looks upon the range of human beliefs on this matter he makes this observation:
What strikes one most in looking at this widespread, one may truly say this universal, faith in man’s survival of death, is its moral neutrality. All men survive, and they survive in practically the same condition, whether they are good or bad. The world into which they pass is conceived as a shadowy unsubstantial place, and the life of those who tenant it corresponds.
I have seen this to be true. I once spoke with people visiting the place a young man was murdered in a gang drive by (one rival gang against another). The friends of the slain man were quite certain that their comrade who died in connection with his criminality was alive in the same place as everyone else.
Having reviewed both beliefs of many cultures and having traced the issue through the Scripture, he comes to the Christian hope in full:
Christians believe in their own resurrection to eternal life, because they believe in the Resurrection of Christ. But faith does not depend upon—it does not originate in nor is it maintained by—the Resurrection of Christ, simply as a historical fact. The Resurrection of Jesus is not simply a fact outside of us, guaranteeing in some mysterious way our resurrection in some remote future. It is a present power in the believer. He can say with St. Paul—Christ liveth in me—the risen Christ—the Conqueror of Death—and a part, therefore, is ensured to me in His life and immortality. This is the great idea of the New Testament whenever the future life is in view.
Having shown the ground of our hope, he returns to Job’s question from his introduction, but this he rephrases it:
“If a man die,” asked Job, “shall he live again?” Let us put it directly, If I die, shall I live again? It is not worth while putting it as a speculative question: the speculators have not been unanimous nor hearty in their answer. Faith in immortality has in point of fact entered the world and affected human life along the line of faith in God and in Jesus Christ His Son. Only one life has ever won the victory over death: only one kind of life ever can win it—that kind which was in Him, which is in Him, which He shares with all whom faith makes one with Him. That is our hope, to be really members of Christ, living with a life which comes from God and has already vanquished death. God has given to us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. Can death touch that life? Never. The confidence of Christ Himself ought to be ours. If we live by Him we have nothing to fear. “He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood hath eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day.” “Verily, verily I say unto you, if a man keep My word, he shall never see death.” “I am the Resurrection and the Life: he that believeth in Me, though he were dead yet shall he live, and he that liveth and believeth in Me, shall never die.” Believest thou this?
In his poem, Written for a Personal Epitath, Dylan Thomas begins his epitaph with the observation that he is “feeding the worm”. This is a commonplace, going back at least to Hamlet
Not where he eats, but where he is eaten. A
certain convocation of politic worms are e’en at
him. Your worm is your only emperor for diet. We
fat all creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves
for maggots. Your fat king and your lean beggar is
but variable service—two dishes but to one table.
That’s the end. (4.3.19-28)
Thomas avoids the obvious cliche but makes the point. He then turns to a question, “Who I blame”: blame for the fact of his death. He repeats the question in line 6, “Who do I blame?” He does state he has been “laid down/At last by time”. Again an allusion to Shakespeare: in Sonnet 19 he refers to “Devouring time”. In Sonnet 16, time is “bloody time”.
It is interesting how Thomas describes the place of death, “under the earth with girl and thief”: sex and violence.
So whom does Thomas blame?
Mother I blame
Whose loving crime
Molded my form
Within her womb,
Who gave me life and then the grave,
Mother I blame.
Her love and effort gave birth to death:
Here is her labour’s end,
Dead limb and mind,
All love and sweat
Gone now to rot.
There is a very physical aspect to his creation, “love and sweat”. There was work and desire which brought forth the poet: and to what end? “Dead limb and mind.”
“Labour” is a useful pun: both effort and the time of giving birth.
One thing to note about these lines is the scansion: HERE is HER LABour’s END/DEAD LIMB and MIND/ALL LOVE and SWEAT/GONE NOW to ROT
The accumulation of accented syllables makes the going very slow, and with the subject matter, very solemn.
The poem then ends with an unrhymed couplet, which drags the reader into his despair:
I am man’s reply to every question,
His aim and destination.
This blank despair makes sense of Thomas’ famous poem, Do Not Go Gently Into That Good Night. Death is a blank, pointless end. There is nothing beyond current existence. There is no basis for hope. It is an interesting position, because Thomas also seems life as a power which works through all living things. Yet there is no merger of “life” with in his thought, as there often is in this often pagan pantheism. There is no god, thus, there is no perpetuation. There is a chemical process, called “life” which we have — and which we cling to (for some reason), but there is no point.
[This is an outline of the first quarter of Thomas Manton’s first sermon on Titus 2:11-14
For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world; looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.—TITUS 2:11–14.
Having made some general observations on the structure of text he announces the first doctrine:
Doct. 1. That the original and first moving cause of all the blessings we have from God is grace.
I. Survey all the blessings of the covenant, and from first to last you will see grace doth all. Election, vocation, justification, sanctification, glorification, all is from grace. There is a clue of scriptures which will lead us through all these steps, and direct us to grace.
A. For election: Rom. 11:5, 6, There is an election; and why is there election? It is according to grace.
B. Our calling, 2 Tim. 1:9, Why doth God pick and choose, and cull here and there? The only reason is his own grace and his own purpose.
C. Justification: Rom. 3:24, ‘Being justified freely by his grace.’
D. Sanctification, all the parts whereof are called the graces of the Spirit; ….The same grace that giveth Christ, giveth faith to believe in Christ, that we may be possessed of his grace.
E. Glorification, which is the complement of all salvation. … So that when we come to heaven, this will be our great work, to sing forth the praises of grace, and to admire and glorify the grace of God to all eternity.
II. Secondly, To limit the point. Though it is of grace, yet not to exclude Christ, not to exclude the means of salvation.
A. Not to exclude Christ. [Both the giving of Christ and the imputation of his merit were the result of grace.]. Well, then, it is grace to find out the merit, and grace by which we are interested in it. Christ’s merit is most free, both on the part of God the Father freely sending Christ, and on the part of Christ taking this office upon him. It was grace that moved God to give Christ, and grace that moved Christ to give himself, ‘who loved me, and gave himself for me,’ Gal. 2:20. Nay, after all this, it is grace that gives us faith, that so we may be interested in the merit of Christ, that we which sinned with both hands earnestly, might take hold of God with both hands.
B. Not to exclude the means of salvation; not faith, nor obedience also, if rightly understood.[Do not confuse means and merit.]
1. Not faith; There is a condition required, and that is faith; but God himself gives the condition that he requireth. Grace cannot stand with anything that is in man, and of man as the condition of the covenant
2. And then for obedience, that is also subordinate to faith, as a necessary fruit and effect of it. As faith is the instrument, so obedience is required as a fruit of faith.
a. Though it come not into justification, yet it is an evidence of our interest in salvation. It is required as a testimony of faith, yet not as a condition, which is a cause of the thing promised. It is required, because though it be not of man, yet it is in man; it is given of God, but it is our work.
b. …There is a concurrence of works, but not by way of causality, but order. God will first justify, then sanctify, then glorify, and all of grace. Obedience is the conditio sine qua non—the condition without which we cannot be saved. The grace of God is the first moving cause; Christ is the meritorious procuring cause; faith is the instrument; and obedience is the fruit of faith.
III. Thirdly, My nest work shall be to give you some reasons why it must be so that grace is the original cause of all the blessings we receive from God; because it is most for the glory of God, and most for the comfort of the creature.
A. It is most convenient for the glory of God, to keep up the respects of the creature to him in a way suitable to his majesty.
1. Mark, God would dispense blessings in such a way as might beat down despair and carnal confidence at the same time. Man had need of mercy, but deserveth none. Despair would keep us from returning to God, and carnal confidence from ascribing all to God. Therefore, as the Lord would not have flesh to glory, so neither to be cut off from all hope.
2. It is of grace that we may hope, and keep up our respect to God; for there is nothing that keeps up the devotion and respects of the creature to God so much as grace.
3. If God did not deal with us upon terms of grace, despair would make us let go all sense of duty, and a guilty creature would stand at a distance, and fly from the sight of God. Some think that the only way to gain men to a sense of religion is by rubbing the conscience, and keeping it raw and sore with terror; but the psalmist saith, ‘There is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.’ This is the best way to keep up the creature’s respects. False worships are merely supported by terror and fear; but God, that hath the best title to the heart, will gain it by love and grace.
B. It is most for the comfort of the creature. Grace is the original cause of all the good we expect and receive from God, that we may seek the favour of God with hope, and retain it with certainty.
1. That we may seek the favour of God with hope.
a. If we had to do with justice there could be no hope, for justice giveth only what is due, and doth not consider what we need, but what we deserve.
b. Merit-mongers are best confuted by experience. Let them use the same plea in their prayers which they do in their disputes, and plead the merit of their works, and say, Lord, give me not eternal life, and grace, and favour, till I deserve it at thy hand. Let them thus dispute with God or with their own consciences in the agonies of death, and under horrors of the Lord’s wrath. Surely those that cry up the merits of works are men of little spiritual experience, and seldom look into their own consciences, Dare they thus plead with God?—Lord, never look upon me in mercy if I do not deserve it.
c. So we read in the Life of Bernard, seeming to be cited before the tribunal of God, when Satan had spoken in his conscience, What! thou look for any favour at God’s hand? thou art not worthy. He replies, I confess I am not worthy, nor can I by my own deserts obtain the kingdom of heaven; but I have a double right, Hœreditate patris, et merito passionis—by the grace of my father, and by the merit of Christ’s passion; hereby I can take hold of God with both hands. by grace and merit; not my own, but Christ’s. Thus God’s best servants, their hopes have been established this way, by casting themselves upon mercy and grace.
2. That we may retain the favour of God with certainty: Rom. 4:16, ‘Therefore it is of faith, that it might be by grace, to the end that the promise might be sure to all the seed.’ We should never else be secured against doubts and fears. Believers, that offend daily, would be left to a sad uncertainty; but now we can the better expect glory when the foundation of it is laid in grace. I remember the great patron of the merit of works, Bellarmine, concludeth out of Bernard, propter incertitudinem propriæ justitiæ, et periculum inanis gloriæ, tutissimumi est fiduciam totam in solâ Dei misericordia et benignitate reponere—Because of the uncertainty of our own righteousness, and the danger of vain-glory, I confess it is the safest course to put our trust in the sole mercy and grace of God.
(note for a Bible Study)
In Hosea 1, the prophet has two children who received the God-given names, Lo-ami (not my people) and Lo-ruhamah (no-mercy/compassion). These children will be emblems for the rejection of the Kingdom of Israel – and also tokens of hope, because God will again show mercy upon “my people”.
To rightly understand the significance of these names, we need to understand the biblical theology which underscores these names. The names have roots in the covenant and tie us to the New Testament.
While the primary uses for Hosea come from Exodus, there uses in Genesis which help us understand the significance.
The phrase “my people” has the obvious significance of one’s own familial relations. So Ephron the Hittite uses the phrase “my people” in Genesis 23:11 to refer to his relations. It used in a similar way by Jacob in Genesis 49:29, when he speaks of death, when “I am to be gathered to my people.”
The phrase not only means relations, it also signifies dominion or kingship. So, Pharaoh in Genesis 41:40 refers to the people of the kingdom as “my people”.
God first uses the phrase “my people” when speaking to Moses from the burning bush in Exodus 3, “I have seen the affliction of my people”. Ex. 3:7. Moses is sent to Pharaoh to rescue “my people.” Ex. 3:10
When Moses comes to Pharaoh, he gives the command of the Lord, “Let my people go.” Ex. 5:1. Moses then repeatedly uses the phrase to refer to the Israelites, 7.4, 7.16, 7.26, 8.16. Indeed, one level of understanding of the conflict is a dispute between God and Pharaoh over who has dominion over Israel.
Finally, Pharaoh makes a distinction between Israel and Egypt (a distinction which God first made) when he tells Moses, “go out from among my people”. Ex. 12:31.
God then Israel out to the wilderness where he makes a covenant with them. There was also an earlier covenant with Abraham which was the (a?) basis for the designation of the descendants of Abraham as “my people”.
God then speaks to Israel and tells them that when they interact with another Israelite, they are meeting one who belongs to God, “My people”. Ex. 22:24
When God comes to establish a king over Israel, he is to protect “My people”. 1 Sam. 9:16. David is then given the task of caring for “my people”. 2 Sam. 3:18, 5:2, 7:7.
When Solomon comes to the throne, the Lord makes a covenant with Solomon, that if Solomon will keep the covenant, God will not “forsake my people”. 1 Kings 6:13 [Solomon of course fails in this respect. But a second and greater son of David will come who will be king and will keep the covenant; thus, the Lord will never forsake “my people”]
The people fail in their covenant with God, and so God addresses the fault of “my people”. Isaiah 1:3, “my people do not understand.” “My people have committed two evils”. Jer. 2:31 “My people have forgotten me.” Jer. 18:15
But there will be a restoration of “my people”. The Servant will be “stricken for the transgression of my people.” Isaiah 53:8. The “days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will restore the fortunes of my people”.
Ezekiel 37:13 (ESV)
13 And you shall know that I am the Lord, when I open your graves, and raise you from your graves, O my people.
This is the promise of Hosea, and of the other prophets, e.g., Joel 2:26-27.
As for compassion/mercy, that too is anchored in the Mosaic covenant and extends through the exile to the restoration (the Second Exodus)
In Exodus 33:19 (the first use of this particular word), God announces this compassion as his sovereign prerogative:
Exodus 33:19 (ESV)
19 And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
God speaks of compassion as a fundamental benefit of keeping his covenant. Dt. 13:18-19. In 2 Kings 13:23, God determines to show compassion upon Israel, because of his covenant.
God then says, because his people will not keep covenant, he will no longer show them compassion. Is. 9:17, 27:11. And those who bring the judgment will themselves have no compassion. Is. 13:18, Jer. 6:23, 13:14, 21:7.
But with the judgment there comes a promise of future compassion. While there will be repentance, the compassion begins in God. Jer. 31:20. Yet, the compassion will begin when they repent. Dt. 30:3, 1 Kings 8:50, Is. 30:18, 55:7; Jer. 12:15, 30:18, 31:20, 50:42; Micah 7:18; Zech. 10:6 The judgment is temporary, it is compassion which will be eternal. Is. 54:8-10; Lam. 3:32.
There are also prayers for God’s future compassion and restoration: Zech. 1:2; Ps. 103:13.
The two strands (both laid out by Hosea’s children) are brought together in the NT:
Romans 9:15–26 (NASB95)
15 For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”
16 So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.
17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”
18 So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
19 You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?”
20 On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it?
21 Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use?
22 What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction?
23 And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory,
24 even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.
25 As He says also in Hosea,
“I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’ ”
26 “And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
1 Peter 2:9–10 (NASB95)
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
First, God’s existence (act of being) and essence (quiddity) cannot be constituent components in Him, each supplying what the other lacks. Rather, God must be identical with His existence and essence, and they must be identical with each other. It is His essence to be. Strictly speaking, His act of existence is not what He has, but what He is. 10 Similarly, God does not merely instantiate divinity as a particular concrete instance of it. Rather, He is divinity itself. No man is humanity as such, but God is divinity as such. Many theologians even conclude that God’s essential identity with His own existence is the ontological foundation of His name “I AM” (Ex. 3: 14).
ALL THAT IS IN GOD Evangelical Theology and the Challenge of Classical Christian Theism James E. Dolezal
Psalm 37 (ESV)
He Will Not Forsake His Saints
37 OF DAVID.
1 Fret not yourself because of evildoers;
be not envious of wrongdoers!
2 For they will soon fade like the grass
and wither like the green herb.
3 Trust in the LORD, and do good;
dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.
4 Delight yourself in the LORD,
and he will give you the desires of your heart.
5 Commit your way to the LORD;
trust in him, and he will act.
6 He will bring forth your righteousness as the light,
and your justice as the noonday.
7 Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him;
fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way,
over the man who carries out evil devices!
8 Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath!
Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil.
9 For the evildoers shall be cut off,
but those who wait for the LORD shall inherit the land.
10 In just a little while, the wicked will be no more;
though you look carefully at his place, he will not be there.
11 But the meek shall inherit the land
and delight themselves in abundant peace.
12 The wicked plots against the righteous
and gnashes his teeth at him,
13 but the Lord laughs at the wicked,
for he sees that his day is coming.
14 The wicked draw the sword and bend their bows
to bring down the poor and needy,
to slay those whose way is upright;
15 their sword shall enter their own heart,
and their bows shall be broken.
16 Better is the little that the righteous has
than the abundance of many wicked.
17 For the arms of the wicked shall be broken,
but the LORD upholds the righteous.
18 The LORD knows the days of the blameless,
and their heritage will remain forever;
19 they are not put to shame in evil times;
in the days of famine they have abundance.
20 But the wicked will perish;
the enemies of the LORD are like the glory of the pastures;
they vanish—like smoke they vanish away.
21 The wicked borrows but does not pay back,
but the righteous is generous and gives;
22 for those blessed by the LORD shall inherit the land,
but those cursed by him shall be cut off.
23 The steps of a man are established by the LORD,
when he delights in his way;
24 though he fall, he shall not be cast headlong,
for the LORD upholds his hand.
25 I have been young, and now am old,
yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken
or his children begging for bread.
26 He is ever lending generously,
and his children become a blessing.
27 Turn away from evil and do good;
so shall you dwell forever.
28 For the LORD loves justice;
he will not forsake his saints.
They are preserved forever,
but the children of the wicked shall be cut off.
29 The righteous shall inherit the land
and dwell upon it forever.
30 The mouth of the righteous utters wisdom,
and his tongue speaks justice.
31 The law of his God is in his heart;
his steps do not slip.
32 The wicked watches for the righteous
and seeks to put him to death.
33 The LORD will not abandon him to his power
or let him be condemned when he is brought to trial.
34 Wait for the LORD and keep his way,
and he will exalt you to inherit the land;
you will look on when the wicked are cut off.
35 I have seen a wicked, ruthless man,
spreading himself like a green laurel tree.
36 But he passed away, and behold, he was no more;
though I sought him, he could not be found.
37 Mark the blameless and behold the upright,
for there is a future for the man of peace.
38 But transgressors shall be altogether destroyed;
the future of the wicked shall be cut off.
39 The salvation of the righteous is from the LORD;
he is their stronghold in the time of trouble.
40 The LORD helps them and delivers them;
he delivers them from the wicked and saves them,
because they take refuge in him.
Am I a stone and not a sheep
That I can stand, O Christ, beneath thy cross,
To number drop by drop Thy blood’s slow loss,
And yet not weep?
Not so those women loved
Who with exceeding grief lamented thee;
Not so fallen Peter weeping bitterly;
Not so the thief was moved;
Not so the sun and moon
Which hid their faces in a starless sky,
A horror of great darkness at broad noon—
I, only I.
Yet give not o’er,
But seek thy sheep, true Shepherd of the flock;
Greater than Moses, turn and look once more
And smite a rock.