The Second Pastoral Letter of Robert Murray M’Cheyne


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This letter was written to his distant congregation on February 6, 1839. He first notes that in all difficulties, God at the same time and place provides some consolation, some good:

Even in the wildest storms the sky is not all dark; and so in the darkest dealings of God with his children, there are always some bright tokens for good. His way with us of late has been “in the sea, and his path in the deep waters.”

Robert Murray McCheyne and Andrew A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne (Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894), 184–185. He then recounts three blessings which remain in the midst of his absence.

First, they are not left without any care. There are other men, prepared and able who are present to care for the congregation.

Second, he is still able to pray for them. He then makes an interesting observation: that his being left to “only” pray for them may have been given for his good (perhaps more than the congregation):

Still He allows me to give myself unto prayer. Perhaps this may be the chief reason of my exile from you, to teach me what Zechariah was taught in the vision of the golden candlestick and the two olive-trees, Zech. 4:6, that it is not by might, nor by power, but by his Spirit, obtained in believing, wrestling prayer, that the temple of God is to be built in our parishes. I have hanged my harp upon the willow, and am no more allowed “to open to you dark sayings upon the harp,” nor “to speak of the things which I have made touching the King,” who is “fairer than the children of men.” Still my soul does not dwell in silence. I am permitted to go in secret to God my exceeding joy; and, while meditating his praise, I can make mention of you all in my prayers, and give thanks for the little flock, who, “by patient continuance in well-doing, seek for glory, and honour, and immortality.” 

 Robert Murray McCheyne and Andrew A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne (Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894), 185–186.

Finally, he is able to write to them.

He ends with four exhortations:

  1. Abide in Him, little children, whom I have always preached to you, that when He shall appear we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming….
  2. Enjoy the forgiveness of sins — keep yourselves in the love of God…..
  3. Be ye clean that bear the vessels of the Lord. …Oh take heed, do not give the enemy cause to blaspheme; naming the name of Christ, dear form all iniquity.
  4. Continue in prayer….. [223]

He ends with a desire to see them again and a benediction:

Now, may the God of peace himself give you peace always, by all means, and the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirits. Amen.

 Robert Murray McCheyne and Andrew A. Bonar, Memoir and Remains of the Rev. Robert Murray McCheyne (Edinburgh; London: Oliphant Anderson & Ferrier, 1894), 187.

Three Poems by William Carlos Williams, Part Two


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Al Que Quiere! - Wikipedia

In a previous post we noted that Williams wrote a series of three poems (published in Al Que Quiere! (1917)) concerning the poor. There was a certain ambiguity in the first poem Pastoral (there is a second poem also named “Pastoral”) concerning Williams’ relationship with the subject: was he mocking the poor or the pastoral form? Was he objectifying the poor and thus dehumanizing their plight? How should we resolve these questions.

In the second poem of the series, Apology, Williams considers not the home of the poor, but the poor themselves:


Why do I write today?


The beauty of

the terrible faces

of our nonentities

stirs me to it:


colored women

day workers –

old and experienced –

return home at dusk

in cast off clothing

faces like

old Florentine oak.




the set pieces

of your faces stir me –

leading citizens-

but not in the same way.


Here, Williams considers the “terrible faces” of “our nonentities”.  First we must note that “terrible” does not have the connotations of extremely bad, poor quality, et cetera. Here are some contemporary uses of the phrase “terrible face”:

Quo Vadis, “She imagined him having a terrible face, an immovable malice in the features”. (1899) The Clash, 1922, “the terrible face of the wounded man”. A short story in Good Housekeeping, The River’s End, “It was a haunting and terrible face, a face heavy and deeply lined”. The courage of Captain Plum, 1924, “Nathaniel tried to stifle the cry on his lips, tried to smile, to speak — but the terrible face that stared up into his own held him silent, motionless.” [Both The River’s End and Captain Plum were written by James Oliver Curwood, he apparently like that phrase.] In fact, 1919, was the highpoint in the use of the phrase “terrible face”!

These faces are thus peculiarly striking, they are faces that do something to the observer.

Williams does not speak of horror of these faces, for he refers to the “beauty” of these “terrible faces”. He is walking along and arrested by the horror which has marked and the beauty which shows from the faces of these poor “colored women”. Here are the most downtrodden and he sees them.

There is nothing romanticized about their appearance, and he yet finds elegance here: their faces are beautiful and like “Florentine oak”: a phrase which has a whiff of the ancient world. When combined with the phrase “terrible face” it may not be reading too much allusion to think of some Roman demigod.  Their castoff clothing is then a kind of disguise.

But at the same time, these are poor women in poor clothes walking home from a difficult job as night descends. These women have become real to him. It is as if he has just noticed them.

And note the title, the poem is an “apology”: I am sorry, dear reader, leading citizen, that I have noticed the beauty and humanity of these fellow-creatures whom you have seeming not seen.

He then addresses his “leading citizens” directly: “your faces” — which are “set pieces” also have an affect upon me.

The last line then comes as a cut, “but not in the same way.”

There is nothing smug in Williams consideration of the poor. Rather than objectifying the poor, they have intruded into his conscious as real people. This is not to say he does not recognize a profound distance. He does not pretend to enter into their world. He offers no help. He does nothing to change a thing.

This is only a poem: not a call to some action. But I think for making itself a bare poem — without the pomposity and politics which mar most (all?) contemporary poetry (nothing is so dull and limiting as politics in poetry — the politics are jejune and the poetry is mundane) — makes it more powerful.

The poor who are so often not recognized have become quite real. They are there in beauty with their “terrible faces”. The “leading citizens” are criticized because they have missed what he has found.

These poor women must first become human beings in the eyes of the “leading citizens” before anything can be done. Otherwise, the response to these women will be render them something less than human, lacking agency: objects of the leading citizens’ largesse rather than human being deserving of respect on the same ground as any human: both good and bad.

These women, after all, have “terrible faces” and “beauty”.

Book Review: Advances in the Study of Greek

Advances in the Study of Greek: New Insights for Reading the New Testament by [Campbell, Constantine R.]

Author: Constantine R. Campbell. Forward by D.A. Carson

The title gives away the theme: The book concerns the study of the Greek language, primarily the study of Koine Greek (the Greek of the New Testament). There are ten chapters: 1) A history of the study of Greek. 2) A brief overview of the linguistics and linguistic theories. 3) Lexicography. 4) The middle voice (is there such a thing as a deponent verb?). 5) Verbal Aspect and Aktionsart. 6) The nature of word choice by a particular writer (idiolect, genre and register) 7-8) Two chapters on discourse analysis (one chapter on Hallidayan & Levinsohn/Runge). 9) A chapter on Koine pronunciation. 10) A chapter on teaching Greek.

The book is well-written throughout. Campbell write clearly. A great strength of the book is his ability to summarize and introduce arcane or complex subjects with clarity and precision. For instance the second chapter on linguistic theories was written largely as an introduction to the subject. My understanding of linguistic and linguistic theory is was limited and scattered. However, I had no difficulty in following Campbell’s summary of the subject. Even in the areas where I did some experience (such as Saussure) were useful by putting the theories into context.

For each of the chapters, Campbell provided an overview of the historical development of the topic. The historical development is not merely for interest, but also to place the “advancement” into context.

Each element of the chapter is set forth sequentially. There are individual titles for each division and subdivision. These individual headings are set out the table of contents, which makes it easy to quickly find a particular topic. I purchased the electronic version of the book; the various headings were keyed to the text and the table of contents.

Campbell also uses well-formed charts to summarize areas of relationship (such as the areas of linguistic study or “discourse strands and indicative tense-form patterns”).

The limitation of the book is in the nature of the book: it is an overview of the historical development of the study of the Greek language. This means that no-one subject is thoroughly covered. However, at the end of every chapter, Campbell provides a helpful list of further reading.

One could read the book and learn a great deal about general subjects of linguistics, the history of the story of Greek, pedagogy, and discourse grammar without the ability to read Greek. Yet, the book is about the Greek language and it assumes a familiarity with Koine Greek, verb forms, et cetera. Campbell assumes the ability to read Greek.  However, if one has limited Greek reading ability, it would be possible to simple skip over such sections (there not many untranslated Greek quotations).

If there were an “ideal reader” of the book, I imagine it would be a student of the Greek language casting about for a general PhD topic. Campbell draws out the various strands of Greek study and leaves them at the open issues for further study.

I thoroughly enjoyed the book. However, this book is not for everyone (as is evidenced by the topic). .

I will mention elements from the various chapters in other posts

Titus 3:10, That Man is a Heretic


The English translation “factious” is just a poor translation. The implications of the word differ from the Greek. Here is the usage described in the TDNT:

From this there develops in Hellenism the predominant objective use of the term to denote a. “doctrine” and especially b. “school.” The αἵρεσις of the philosopher, which in antiquity always includes the choice of a distinctive Bios, is related to δόγματα to which others give their πρόσκλισις. It thus comes to be the αἵρεσις (teaching) of a particular αἵρεσις (school).1 Cf. the title of a work by Antipater of Tarsus (2nd century B.C.) κατὰ τῶν αἱρέσεων, and the writing of Chrysipp. αἵρεσις πρὸς Γοργιππίδην (Diog. L., VII, 191); also the description of the philosophical schools as αἱρέσεις in Polyb., V, 93, 8 (Peripatetic), Dion. Hal. Compos. Verb., 19, p. 134, 3 f. (ἥ γʼ Ἰσοκράτους καὶ τῶν ἐκείνῳ γνωρίμων αἵρεσις); Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp., 1, 16; Diog. L., I, 19 (τοῦ δὲ ἠθικοῦ [sc. μέρους τῆς φιλοσοφίας] γεγόνασιν αἱρέσεις δέκα: Ἀκαδημαική, Κυρηναική κτλ.). For the concept of such a fellowship—as well as αἱρέσεις κατὰ φιλοσοφίαν (Sext. Emp. Pyrrh. Hyp., I, 185) we also have κατὰ ἰατρικὴν αἱρέσεις (ibid., I, 237)—the following aspects are important: the gathering of the αἵρεσις from a comprehensive society and therefore its delimitation from other schools; the self-chosen authority of a teacher; the relatively authoritarian and relatively disputable doctrine; and the private character of all these features.


We need not be surprised if in Philo it is used on the one side to denote a Greek philosophical school, as, e.g., in Plant., 151, and if on the other it is employed to depict what Philo calls the august philosophical society of the Therapeutics, as, e.g., in Vit. Cont., 29. In Josephus, too, αἵρεσις is used of the religious community of the Essenes (Bell., 2, 118). Indeed, Josephus sees all the Jewish religious schools in terms of the Greek philosophical schools, the Essenes, Sadducees and Pharisees being the τρεῖς παρʼ ἡμῶν αἱρέσεις. After his investigation3 of all three, Josephus resolved πολιτεύεσθαι τῇ τῶν Φαρισαιων αἱρέσει κατακολουθῶν, ἣ παραπλήσιός ἐστι τῇ παρʼ Ἕλλησιν Στωϊκῇ λεγομένῃ (Vit., 12).


 Heinrich Schlier, “Αἱρέομαι, Αἵρεσις, Αἱρετικός, Αἱρετίζω, Διαιρέω, Διαίρεσις,” ed. Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 181. The underlying verb simply to grasp, take, et cetera. It is someone creating a group. Perhaps the best analogy to Acts 3:10 is the savage wolf of Acts 20:29. Such a group would have the secondary effect of division,  but division is not issue. It certainly does not mean disagreement over finances, et cetera.

Three Poems by William Carlos Williams (Part One)


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There are series of three poems from Al Que Quiere! (1917) which concern the same matter of the persons perhaps most likely neglected as objects of poetry. This attention would not be interesting in and of itself today: looking for outcasts, portraying the outcast is sure sign of artistic integrity.

Two of the poems are entitled “Pastoral”, their companion is “Apology”.  The first pastoral begins:

When I was younger

it was plain to me

I must make something of myself


The patter is five – five – eight. The longer line exhausts the idea and makes a bit of closure. What then is the idea: ambition: which ambition is going to contrasted with the wisdom of age:


Older now

I walk back streets


How the opposite of ambition. He is not in a place to be seen, here is in backstreets.


Admiring the houses

Of the very poor:


He then lists out the items he sees:


roof out of line with sides

the yards cluttered

with old chicken wire, ashes,

furniture gone wrong;

the fences and outhouses

built of barrel-staves

and parts of boxes, all,

if I am fortunate

smeared a bluish green

that properly weathered

pleases me best

of all colors.  


Before we come to the conclusion, we are left with a bit of a question: Is he ironic? Not ironic in finding the items visually interesting. There is something visually interesting in decay. Any number of photographers have used such things as either the subject or the backdrop for their images.


But the irony of saying such a color “pleases” him. There is a strange tone in the pastoral subject of poetry were the poet idealizes another’s poverty as a place of serenity and tranquill beauty – away from whatever ambition and hurry has ceased the poet and his world. But we never see the poet volunteer to become poor. (Dickens, to his credit may idealize some poor people, but he does not romanticize poverty per se.)


Is Williams merely finding beauty where it can be found – is it a realization that his ambition is of little good except for beauty? Is there a mocking of the “pastoral”?



He ends with


            No one

will believe this

of vast importance to the nation.


What is of no importance? His vision of beauty? The fact that he likes the color? The lives of the poor?


We know that he has gotten something wrong – his early ambition has given way to looking at the poor and seeking beauty in their ramshackle existence.


The next poem, “Apology” may help understand the first (assuming he holds a consistent position).

The Deadly Sins — First Mentioned


The earliest discussion (approximately 495 A.D. in the works of John Cassian) of the “seven deadly” sins were actually eight sins:

the struggle against the eight principal faults, i.e. first, Gluttony or the pleasures of the palate; secondly, Fornication; thirdly, Covetousness, which means Avarice, or, as it may more properly be called, the love of money, fourthly, Anger; fifthly, Dejection; sixthly, “Accidie,”4 which is heaviness or weariness of heart; seventhly, κενοδοξία which means foolish or vain glory; eighthly, pride.

John Cassian, “The Twelve Books of John Cassian on the Institutes of the Cœnobia,” in Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lérins, John Cassian, ed. Philip Schaff and Henry Wace, trans. Edgar C. S. Gibson, vol. 11, A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, Second Series (New York: Christian Literature Company, 1894), 233–234.

James Denney: Moral Impossibilities


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This sermon is based upon 1 Corinthians 10:21, Ye cannot drink the Cup of the Lord and the cup of the devils.

The sermon has two points of particular interest: (1) what is the nature of the elements in the Lord’s Supper: particularly what is work in a symbol. (2) What does it mean for a modern Christian to take the cup of the devils?

As for symbol, Denney makes an important corrective to the concept of symbol: a symbol is not meant to put something at a distance, but rather to bring that thing close:

Perhaps it was under a deep sense of what it signified, perhaps with a sort of perplexity in our minds that in a spiritual religion like ours such a place should have been claimed by a material rite. It is certain that many church members have no clear convictions about the sacraments, and are uncomfortable in the celebration of them. They may think in some indistinct fashion that they are symbolical, but they use even the idea of symbol in a wrong way.

A symbol in their thoughts is something to be distinguished from reality; just because it is a symbol, it keeps them, one might say, at arm’s length from the thing symbolized. But the true use of a symbol is to bring the reality near; it is to give us a grasp of it such as we could not otherwise obtain.

A Christian spirit does not play off the reality in the sacrament, and the symbol, against each other; it grasps the reality through the symbol; it does not answer to its experience to say that in the communion it partakes of the symbols of Christ’s body and blood; it has Jesus Christ Himself in all the reality of his incarnation and passion as its meat and drink. It is nothing less than the cup of the Lord which we drink, nothing less than the table of the Lord of which we partake.

James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 230–231. The “symbols” of the supper are not to create a distance, but rather to bring about a relationship which could not obtain otherwise. The best of symbols make us understand better; help us relate better.

As for the second issue: what now is the cup of the devils? Denney says, Well, we don’t see idol worship or overt devilry nowadays. On this first point, things have changed greatly. There are a substantial number of people who self-identify as Wiccan, “In 2014 Pew Research Center estimated that 0.4 percent of Americans, about 1 to 1.5 million people, identify as Wiccan or Pagan.” There are any number of things quite common today which would have been unthinkable in such numbers in the late 19th century (although since the First World War, such things have certainly grown).

But even without overt paganism, Denney speaks of a certainly “liberty” which has one taking in ideas and culture which are contrary to Christ. The cup of devils is far more dangerous to us than we understand. Paul is warning them of a very real danger:

No matter how sure a man’s hold may be of the Christian principle that an idol is nothing in the world and therefore can do nothing to harm any enlightened person; if he takes part in such a transaction as I have described, then its atmosphere, its circumstances, its spirit, will prevail against him; he will be brought in spite of himself into the great communion of heathen life again. Let him say what he will, it is another world than that in which we live at the Lord’s table; it is spiritual influence of another quality which tells there upon the soul: and the two are irreconcilable. “Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons”.

James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 235–236.

Here is how Denney describes the effect of such liberty:

Probably the cup of devils is drunk most frequently still under the sign of liberty. Even a Christian man says to himself that everything in human life ought to be of interest to him. It belongs to his intelligence to concern itself with all the experiences of his kind, and the most attractive way to look at these experiences is in literature. This is the mirror in which life is reflected, and it cannot be wrong to gaze into it. It is indeed the mark of a large and liberal intelligence to have the amplest toleration here; to allow the mind to familiarize itself with all that has been said and thought by human beings; to cultivate breadth, appreciation, geniality; to avoid a censorious and puritanic temper. The world that is good enough for God should be good enough for us, and we should not be too good to take it as it is.

It is by pleas like these, or in a mood like this, that men and women who have drunk the cup of the Lord allow themselves to drink the cup of devils. They deliberately breathe a poisoned spiritual air as if it could do them no harm. But it does do harm. I do not believe there is anything in which people are so ready to take liberties which does so much harm. There are bad books in the world, just as there are bad men, and a Christian cannot afford to take either the one or the other into his bosom. There are books, and books of genius too, which should not be read, because they should never have been written. The first imagination and conception of them was sin, and the sin is revived when they are conceived again in the mind even of a Christian reader. It is revived with all the deadly power that belongs to sin. We cannot give our minds over to it with impunity. It confuses, it stains, it debilitates, it kills. It is the cup of devils, and we cannot drink it and drink the cup of the Lord.

 James Denney, The Way Everlasting: Sermons (London; New York; Toronto: Hodder and Stoughton, 1911), 237–238.

And, “All things are not lawful for us if we wish to remain in the Lord’s company and to share in His life.”

Brush Your Teeth or Lose Your Mind



However evidence has been growing that the function of amyloid proteins may be as a defence against bacteria, leading to a spate of recent studies looking at bacteria in Alzheimer’s, particularlythose that cause gum disease, which is known to be a major risk factor for the condition.

Bacteria involved in gum disease and other illnesses have been found after death in the brains of people who had Alzheimer’s, but until now, it hasn’t been clear whether these bacteria caused the disease or simply got in via brain damage caused by the condition.

Brush Your Teeth!

Is sincere belief sufficient?

We should not miss the tone of religious devotion in the woman’s words. She—Israel—really believed that she was practicing sound principles of religion and that she was receiving the appropriate rewards.151 Fixation on the adultery metaphor and on erotic aspects of the fertility cult can prevent us from recognizing the sincere devotion—and spiritual blindness—that had seized the people. Perhaps this is because we too feel vindicated by the external trappings of success and take this to be the validation of our theology and practice. Could we go back to Hosea’s time, we might be shocked to discover that the spiritual decadence of Hosea’s day was no more severe than that of our own. Worse yet, we might find ourselves wondering why Hosea was so upset with his generation because we have more in common with them than with him.

151 Wolff (Hosea, 38) sees the use of the hapax legomenon אֶתְנָה instead of the more common אֶתְנַן (“prostitute’s fee,” Deut 23:19; Mic 1:7; Hos 9:1) to be simply a wordplay on תְּאֵנָה (“fig tree”). While he is no doubt correct that there is a pun here, I am inclined to agree with Andersen and Freedman (Hosea, 254) that the avoidance of a term that simply means a prostitute’s hire is deliberate. We should not allow the sexual metaphor to dominate the text entirely, or we may miss its deeper meaning.

 Duane A. Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 84–85.

Some introductory notes to a sermon on Hosea 2 (To Know God)


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To Know God

Hosea 2

The judgment and blessing of God are measured to His purpose. God not judge from a senseless rage, and He does not bless without purpose:

Psalm 104:24 (NASB95)

O Lord, how many are Your works!

In wisdom You have made them all;

“Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom of God!” Romans 11:33. His every decision, from the fall of the sparrow to the fall of an emperor are purposed by the unsearchable wisdom of God.


God has promised that all things work together for good: God will bring honey from the carcass of a lion (Judges 14:8). That all things work together for good is not some vague statement that I will get a better job when I have lost one; it is not my cancer will bring about a cure. God’s goodness does not track our desires.


Yet, the goodness of God always works the purpose of God. Think carefully of the promise:

Romans 8:28 (NASB95)

And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to Hispurpose.

There is the purpose of God embedded in the promise of God. What then is that purpose to which He calls? What is the end of this goodness of God? To be conformed to the image of His Son. Rom. 8:29. The goodness of God is shape, to form, to break and remake until the image of Christ is stamped upon the soul. The Son is so dear that the Father will see that image upon all the people called according to His purpose. What greater goodness could there be than to be made lovely to the Father?

In Colossians 3:10, Paul that the redeemed are being “being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him.” There is a true knowledge of God that works upon and forms the redeemed: that knowledge of God makes one new; it stamps the image upon the soul

God has a purpose a plan in in the life of the redeemed: God seeks to remake them into the image to which they were called. God in his goodness seeks to conform all the people of God to Son of God. And as we gaze upon the glory of the Son of God, we are transformed into that glory. 2 Cor. 3:18

Where then will we look to see this glory? How is the glory of the Lord displayed? Will certainly the creation. Ps. 19:1 But there is a place in which the glory of God shines more brightly than elsewhere: in the Son. Hebrews 1 tells us that while God spoke previously through the prophets, in these last days He has spoken in His Son. That Son is the radiance of the glory of God. There is true glory of God shining with unvarnished beauty and brilliance.

And where would we look to see this glory? We could dare to look to where the Son of God is seated at the right hand of majesty on high – there he dwells in unimagined brilliance and glory.  For it is in Jesus Christ that the glory of God is displayed to all creation.

But the glory of God will not be seen by earthlings grasping at heaven. There is a view of this glory – a view beyond all delight – but that view can only be seen when one has passed the strait gate, when one has walked the narrow way.  You can see the majesty of the world from the top of Mount Everest – but only when you have climbed the mountain. And you will see Christ in his beauty; but only when you have passed the narrow gate.

That narrow gate passes through the cross of Christ and the tomb of Christ: death comes before resurrection, and resurrection before glory.

We come to the knowledge of God through the knowledge of Christ. Think of that most famous of all passages in the Bible, John 3:16

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son ….

Do not pass over the verb: He gave. The love of the Father is seen in the given Son, the Son delivered over to death for us all; the Son delivered over to death for our sin. We cannot see the love and glory of God outside of that terrible sight of our sin hung upon Christ, our sin which he bore in His body on the tree.

It is the good purpose of God that we should know God. It is the good purpose of God that we should be conformed to the image of the Son. But that knowledge is found in a gold mine, deep in the dark; that glory is found in the Valley of Humiliation; that glory is found in passing through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

But it is there, as the prophet Hosea says, that we will find the door of hope:

The Valley of Achor, the valley of trouble, the valley of judgment where the stones piled upon over Achan’s sin, there in the valley of Achor is the door of hope:

I will give her  — says the Lord –

The valley of Achor as a door of hope.

Hosea 2:15

Here look upon judgment, come look upon sin and its sad end, come here to the valley of Achor and I will open up a door of hope. Here in the narrow way, I will lead you out to the knowledge of God.

It is this passage from a knowledge of sin – a knowledge which Israel did not realize – that leads to a knowledge of God. That is the judgment and promise of this second chapter of Hosea

[the movement of the passage is from judgment, brought about because she does not know and has forgotten God to a blessing which is to know God and to say, You are my God! There is a movement of increasing despair of ourselves, which leads us finally to a knowledge of God]

{two quotes to be used later}

As the Spanish theologian Juan de Valdes (ca. 1509–1541) discovered, the only true knowledge of God is the knowledge of Christ, and this presupposes the experiences of the knowledge of sin through the law and the knowledge of grace through the gospel.156 Although it jolts what we might intuitively suppose, our experience not only of guilt but also of condemnation and despair is integral to knowing God. But of course there is no gospel at all if there is no redemption, and it is to this that Hosea now turns.

Duane A. Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 87.


Lord, high and holy, meek and lowly,
Thou hast brought me to the valley of vision,
where I live in the depths but see thee in the heights;
hemmed in by mountains of sin I behold thy glory.
Lord, in the daytime stars can be seen from deepest wells,
and the deeper the wells the brighter thy stars shine;
Let me find thy light in my darkness,
thy life in my death,
thy joy in my sorrow,
thy grace in my sin,
thy riches in my poverty,
thy glory in my valley.